Celebrating the Alireza Ahmadian Lectures in Iranian and Persianate Studies



The Faculty of Arts was delighted recently to announce that the Ahmadian family and friends have provided funding to support the Department of Asian Studies annual Lectures in Iranian and Persianate Studies. This generous gift will see these important academic and community engagement events fully supported through to the end of the 2025/2026 academic year. We are proud to continue the naming of this lecture series during this period in memory of the Ahmadian family’s beloved Alireza.

Alireza Ahmadian

Alireza Ahmadian (1981–2019) was a proud UBC graduate (BA’11) and a passionate supporter of the initiative to establish Persian Language and Iranian Studies within the Department of Asian Studies.

Thank you to the donors and the community for their incredible support of this initiative, and for honouring Alireza Ahmandian in this most meaningful way. Please join us in celebrating this generous gift by joining us at the Alireza Ahmadian Lectures in Iranian and Persianate Studies. The many upcoming lectures and events are listed here.

Allied with this announcement is the good news that after an exhaustive international search, UBC is pleased to welcome Dr. Hessam Dehghani as a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Teaching. Encouraged by student enrollments and by the generous support of the community for additional offerings in Persian language and Iranian studies, the Faculty of Arts is pleased to provide funding for this position, which will help anchor this important and growing initiative. Dr. Dehghani is a versatile teacher of many strengths and comes to us from Boston College in the US. He will be teaching Persian language courses at all levels along with the occasional lecture course on different aspects of Iranian Studies. He looks forward to engaging students in Persian language and culture, beginning in January of 2021.

Lastly, thank you to the donor community for continuing to work with us in securing funding for a Professor of Persian Literature and Culture position. A fully funded professor of Persian Literature and Culture will allow us to build on this program’s achievements and will secure expertise in Persian literature as well as Iranian civilization, cinema and culture for generations of students to come. With your ongoing support, together we can make this fully realized program a reality. More information about our shared vision for this program can be found here.

Again, thank you to the Ahmadian family and their community for this generous support. We are deeply excited about the community engagement and academic resources that this lecture series will bring for this and the coming years.

Gage Averill
Dean, Faculty of Arts

Alireza Ahmadian (1981–2019)

Along with his immediate family in Iran, Alireza immigrated to Vancouver in 2001. He studied history at UBC, graduating with his BA in 2011. Alireza then traveled to the UK, obtaining his master’s degree in International Studies and Diplomacy from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London.

Alireza organized around the issues of democracy, immigration, anti-racism, and empowerment for immigrant communities. His research and writing were published or aired by various media outlets, including BBC Persian, Global News, the Georgia Straight, and New Canadian Media.

Alireza’s dream was for all humans with diverse beliefs and interests to converse respectfully and constructively and seek peace and collaboration.

Upon Alireza’s passing, BC Premier John Horgan, the leader of BC NDP, and Andrew Wilkinson, the leader of BC Liberal Party and Official Opposition at the Legislative Assembly of BC, and Andrew Weaver, Former Leader of the BC Green Party, issued statements commemorating his memory and contributions to the British Columbia’s multicultural communities.