Mehrzad Boroujerdi, an internationally recognized expert on Iran and Middle Eastern politics, has been appointed director of Virginia Tech’s School of Public and International Affairs in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies.

Boroujerdi comes to Virginia Tech from Syracuse University, where he has been a faculty member in the Department of Political Science since 1992. He currently serves as a professor of political science and the O’Hanley Faculty Scholar at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Boroujerdi will join Virginia Tech on Aug. 10, 2019, and will be primarily based at the Virginia Tech Research Center in Arlington.

“Boroujerdi is a scholar, educator, and strategic thinker who possesses an incredible ability to contextualize foreign and public policy within historical and international frameworks,” said Richard Blythe, dean of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies. “His world-renowned profile will further enable the college to internationalize Virginia Tech’s activities and influence, a key Beyond Boundaries objective. Boroujerdi has a proven ability to engage through his research with real-world challenges in international affairs and to bring these issues forward in the public eye as important learning opportunities for students. These characteristics are key to Virginia Tech’s charge as a land-grant university with a transformational mission to create and implement deep, experience-based learning within our programs.”

Joel Peters, professor and chair of the government and international affairs program at Virginia Tech, has led the School of Public and International Affairs as interim director since January 2018. Peters, who specializes in Israeli politics and foreign policy, will return to teaching and research within the program. 

“I would like to thank Joel for his leadership and service as interim director over these past months,” said Blythe. “His efforts have led to valuable contributions to school programs and initiatives in Blacksburg, Richmond, and Alexandria, and he has diligently positioned the school for future success.”

Throughout Boroujerdi’s tenure at Syracuse University, he has served in a number of leadership roles, including chair and director of graduate studies of the Department of Political Science, Provost Fellow for Internationalization, co-chair of the Internationalization Council, and member of the Academic Strategic Planning Committee and co-chair of its Working Group on Enhancing Internationalization. He was also founding director of the Middle Eastern Studies Program and co-founder of the Project on Religion, Media, and International Affairs.

A prolific author and researcher, Boroujerdi has written and contributed to a number of books on Iranian society and politics, including "Iranian Intellectuals and the West: The Tormented Triumph of Nativism" (Syracuse University Press, 1996) and "Postrevolutionary Iran: A Political Handbook" (Syracuse University Press, 2018). Additionally, he has authored more than 30 journal articles and book chapters in both English and Persian.

As an expert on Iran and Middle Eastern politics, Boroujerdi has provided insight and commentary to a number national and international media outlets, including the Associated Press, LA Times, NPR, New York Times, Reuters, Spiegel, and Washington Post.

“Virginia Tech is a research powerhouse,” said Boroujerdi. “The School of Public and International Affairs possesses a really impressive depth and breadth of scholarship and pursues an interdisciplinary approach to projects. Those things combined with Dean Blythe’s vision for the college and the university’s new strategic plan led me to realize that Virginia Tech is the place I need to be.”

Boroujerdi’s research and academic initiatives have received funding from a variety of public and private sources, including the United States Institute of Peace, Harvard University, the Social Science Research Council, and the Henry R. Luce Foundation – among others.

Active in both public and professional service throughout his career, Boroujerdi’s former appointments include president of the Association for Iranian Studies, nonresident scholar at the Middle East Institute in Washington, D.C, and former member of the board of directors of the Near East Foundation.

Boroujerdi received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Boston University in 1983 and a master’s degree in political science from Northeastern University in 1985. He received a Ph.D. in international relations from the American University in Washington, D.C., in 1990.

Photo by Erica Corder