Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

SFS Professor to Head Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies

In the wake of professor Ahmad Dallal’s departure to become provost of the [American University of Beirut](, professor John Voll will take his place as chair of [the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies]( Voll will be the first non-department member to head the department.

Voll has worked at the university since 1995 as a professor of Islamic history in the School of Foreign Service and as associate director of [the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding]( Though he is not a member of the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies, which is a part of the College, he has collaborated with the department in the past.

According to Voll, the department is currently in a very important stage in its development.

“It’s a changing kind of world for the study of the Arabic language and culture,” Voll said. “Since Sept. 11, 2001, the popularity of Arabic classes has skyrocketed, and the subject is now more popular than it has ever been. Enrollment has tripled over the past decade. The department at Georgetown is even starting to deal with incoming freshmen who have had previous experience with Arabic in high school.”

At the same time, the size of the department has declined in the past five years due to university budget constraints and the departures of key faculty members, Voll said.

The department is now looking to expand with plans to increase faculty recruitment and develop curricula, Voll said.

Voll said that while he had volunteered to help the department in any way possible during its time of transition, he was surprised when he was offered the position.

“My plans for the coming year in no way included being the chair of anything,” he said in reference to when Georgetown College Dean Chester Gillis approached him last June to offer the position.

The chair of a department assumes a significant amount of administrative work, and, as a result, teaches fewer classes. Voll will now teach only one class per semester rather than the two he has taught in the past.

“Being the chair is something that I think is an obligation and a responsibility, but never something I have aspired at being,” he said.

Voll said that his biggest challenge will be adjusting to how the College works. He said he has every intention to hit the ground running.

“At this point [the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies] can’t just sit around waiting for something to happen,” Voll said.”

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