St. Ambrose announces creation of Middle East Institute

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

DAVENPORT, IOWA—St. Ambrose University has announced that it will create a Middle East Institute—the first academic institute in the state of Iowa devoted to the study and discussion of one of the world’s most geopolitically important regions.

“In order to understand the world in a global context, you must understand the Middle East,” said Ryan Dye, the institute coordinator and director of International Education at St. Ambrose. “The institute’s mission will be to provide a nonpartisan public forum for the university and the community to engage thoughtfully about key issues impacting the Middle East.”

The institute’s first public event will be a lecture by former Iowa Congressman Jim Leach titled, “What is Old, New and Unprecedented in America’s Relationships With the Middle East.” The lecture will take place at 7 p.m., Thursday April 10, in Christ the King Chapel on the SAU campus. The event is free and open to the public.

The Middle East Institute will host scholars-in-residence and visiting artists whose work will focus on the Middle East, and will feature frequent roundtable discussions on the Middle East among local scholars. The institute will host an annual, two-day symposium led by a scholar-in-residence, and featuring presentations by regional and national experts. The institute also will promote the creation of several classes related to the Middle East across the St. Ambrose curriculum.

“The institute fits with the St. Ambrose history of engagement in peace and justice issues,” Dye said. “And the university has demonstrated an ability to thoughtfully examine tough, complex issues through its annual Project Series programs.”

Dye said the Middle East Institute hopes to work in collaboration with a variety of local and regional organizations, such as the World Affairs Council, the Jewish Federation and the Islamic Center of the Quad Cities. Initial funding for the Institute has been provided by the Adler-Schermer Foundation. 

Currently a visiting professor of law and the University of Iowa Chair in Public Affairs, Leach represented eastern Iowa in Congress for 30 years, many of those as a ranking member of the House Committee on International Relations.

Leach has taught at the Princeton University Woodrow Wilson School in Princeton, N.J., and served as an interim director of the Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Mass. He holds thirteen honorary degrees, has received decorations from two foreign governments, and is the recipient of the Wayne Morse Integrity in Politics Award, the Adlai Stevenson Award from the United Nations Association, the Edgar Wayburn Award from the Sierra Club, the Norman Borlaug Public Service Award, and the Woodrow Wilson Medal from Princeton.

For information about Leach’s April 10 lecture, contact Ryan Dye at 563-333-6389 or Learn more about the St. Ambrose University Middle East Institute at