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Extra Credit: Ali R. Malekzadeh

Extra Credit: Ali R. Malekzadeh
By France Griggs Sloat

Ali R. Malekzadeh became Xavier’s new dean of the Williams College of Business in June. A native of Iran, Malekzadeh was attending school in the United States in 1979 when the Ayatollah Khomeini took over his country. Malekzadeh and his wife, Afsaneh Nahavandi, elected not to return after they learned a bounty was placed on her father, who was the president of Tehran University and prominent in government and politics. He was eventually smuggled out of the country and now lives in Belgium.

 

What attracted you to Xavier? One, Xavier’s name is quite famous across the country. It has an accredited business school, and I was impressed with the faculty. Most importantly, though, the president, the vice presidents and the board of trustees attracted me as the University’s leadership team. The more contact I had, the more I liked it. I really bought into the vision Fr. Graham is painting for the future.

What changes are you planning? What I’m hoping is to open doors and bring down walls between the business community and the University—to have many points of interaction between these groups. For example, we’ll be putting classes inside the businesses. The point is for that classroom door to be open, for businessmen to go in and lecture, for students to go see operations. And we’re forming 10 advisory boards with 200 to 300 professionals.

How was your upbringing in a Muslim society complemented by Jesuit schooling? It exposed me to a very multicultural student body. There were Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Christians, as well as rich kids and poor kids. It taught me there’s no difference between all of us. It prepared me for living in the U.S. and being in a multicultural and multi-religious community. The school was taken over by the Khomeini government in 1979, and all the Jesuit fathers fled the country.

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