NEWSLETTER -September 2015

LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT, PROFESSOR ALI ANSARI

2015 has continued to be a busy year for BIPS as we continued with our restructuring of the central administration and move ahead with the refurbishment of our facilities in Tehran. At the beginning of the year we bade a sad farewell to Mariam Emamy who had stoically served as our secretary in London over a period of seven years steadily maintaining our operations in Tehran during very difficult times. We were very fortunate to replace her with Jane Gillespie, who came to us initially for three months to manage the transition but, I am now pleased to say, will be staying with us permanently.  Not only has Jane enabled us to manage the transition with minimum interruption but we have been able to maintain the momentum of our administrative reforms, with continued refinements to the central administration including for the first time the ability to pay membership fees online. I am very grateful to Jane for all her help in these busy times, along with Armin Yavari who has managed our website development with aplomb. This year also witnessed a number of other developments in our research strategy with the appointment of three new programme directors and a move to two issues of the Journal IRAN, for which I am immensely grateful to Lloyd Ridgeon and Cameron Petrie for all their hard work. Moreover in June the Council ratified and approved the budget to formally launch the Student Member’s Committee (SMC), of which I am confident we will be hearing much more soon.

Another major aspect of our work has of course been the development of our operations in Tehran. Indeed, probably the most important work we have initiated this year has been the refurbishment of our facilities in Tehran along with the gradual expansion of our operations including longer library opening hours. This work has been overseen by our Honorary Director Tehran, Dr Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis and our manager in Tehran, Houman Kordmahini, whose work has been invaluable. We have also engaged with partners in the UK to enhance and strengthen the environment within which we have to operate and on 6th July launched in partnership with the British Academy, a briefing paper entitled, ‘Strengthening academic links with Iran’.  The paper outlined the many practical difficulties that continue to hamper academic engagement and how these may be ameliorated. As recent events have shown these initiatives could not have been more timely and there is a growing mood of optimism that the reduction of political tensions as a result of the Vienna Agreement of 14th July will enable a more robust and durable academic engagement with colleagues in Iran. We live not only in interesting but exciting times!

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