San Francisco State University Announces Additional $1 Million Gift from Alumna and Philanthropist Neda Nobari

Thursday, October 17, 2019
SAN FRANCISCO, October 17, 2019 — San Francisco State University announced that the Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies received an additional $1 million from alumna and Iranian American philanthropist Neda Nobari, building upon her generous gift of $5 million from June 2016 that established the first-of-its-kind center.
Photo of Neda Nobari leaning on a piano in a living room

Administered under the College of Liberal & Creative Arts, the center is dedicated to research and teachings that examine the historical and cultural experiences of the global Iranian diaspora. The $1 million will expand Nobari’s vision for the center and provide grants and fellowships that will amplify the importance of studying the impact of migration, immigration and patterns of ethnic and racial identity formation.

“The impact of this gift will solidify the stature of the growing interdisciplinary field of Iranian diaspora studies and increase the University’s ability to nurture its continued vitality,” said Andrew Harris, dean of the College of Liberal & Creative Arts. “SF State is thankful for Neda’s generosity as the gift will provide faculty and students opportunities for intellectual growth and dissemination of new research and knowledge, which are central to the University’s mission.”

Over the next five years, the gift will be used for a variety of student and faculty initiatives that will roll out in 2020. The initiatives include the:

  • Iman Nobari Post-Doctoral Fellowship: An inaugural fellowship that will support a recent Ph.D. graduate to work in fields related to Iranian diaspora, Iranian-American studies or Iranian studies for one academic year.
  • Azar Hatefi Graduate Student Fellowships: Two annual fellowships will help two SF State graduate students advance their research and studies in the field of Iranian diaspora.
  • The Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies Faculty Research Grants: These grants will support SF State faculty members with their research related to the Iranian diaspora, Iranian studies or other diaspora communities. An advisory committee made up of SF State faculty will be established to review submissions for these awards late in the fall 2019 semester.

“The post-doctoral and graduate fellowships are named after my parents Iman Nobari and Azar Hatefi,” said Neda Nobari. “Neither had opportunities for higher education, but they made sure that my siblings and I did in Iran and abroad. I am grateful for my parent’s commitment to their children’s education and want to honor them in this special way and share their vision with others.”

Nobari emigrated from Iran to the U.S. in 1978 at the age of 15. She graduated from SF State in 1984 with a bachelor's degree in Computer Science and earned a master's degree in Liberal Studies from Dartmouth College in 2015. Her graduate research at Dartmouth focused on the intersection of diaspora and cultural identity of Iranian American women.

From 1985 to 2006, Nobari served as the director and vice chair of bebe stores Inc. After transitioning away from the for-profit sector, she established the Neda Nobari Foundation. Over the past 12 years, she has guided the private foundation in supporting organizations and initiatives associated with the arts, film and education in service of social justice and cultural awareness. In addition to her philanthropic support, she also serves on the board of directors of the San Francisco State University Foundation.

Please visit the Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies website for more information about the center and the latest updates about the fellowships and grants.

About San Francisco State University

San Francisco State University is a doctoral public university serving students from the San Francisco Bay Area, across California and around the world, with nationally acclaimed programs that span a broad range of disciplines. Nearly 30,000 students enroll at the University each year, and its more than 321,000 graduates have contributed to the economic, cultural and civic fabric of San Francisco and beyond. Through them — and more than 1,800 world-class faculty members — SF State proudly embraces its legacy of academic excellence, community engagement and commitment to social justice. For more information, visit

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