Dear CMENAS community,

We are delighted to welcome all new and returning students for the 2021‒2022 academic year! 

2021 is a year of new hope after the trials of 2020. Although the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic have persisted longer than any of us anticipated, and we continue to struggle against racism and xenophobia in many forms, we have also made important strides forward in the last year. We begin this new academic year by extending our best wishes to everyone for their continued safety, health, and well-being. We wish to express our gratitude to all staff whose commitment, service, and sacrifices is keeping the university thriving in these challenging times. 

As we look to the future, we are excited for the events of the upcoming year! Here is a roundup of the Center’s recent news:

  • CMENAS is pleased to welcome new MIRS graduate students specializing in the MENA region—Ethan Lyman and Andrew Williams.

  • Muzammil M. Hussain has joined CMENAS as the new Associate Director and Ryan Szpiech, who served as AD from 2019‒21, has taken the helm as the center’s new Director. All of us at CMENAS wish to express our appreciation to former Director Samer Ali for his leadership over the past four years.

  • We are in the fourth year of a four-year Title VI grant cycle, and will be working hard this year to secure funding and support for the years to come. We continue to prioritize outreach and support for K‒14 education. 

  • Along with the Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS), CMENAS is excited this year to extend its impact and outreach beyond its home state of Michigan for our MENA-SEA Teacher Program and welcome 12 Fellows for 2021-2022.

  • The center continues to facilitate FLAS Fellowships to fund the study of all MENA languages. Look out for info sessions this fall and remember that both undergraduate and graduate students are eligible (Application deadline: January 15, 2022). 

  • We are excited to announce the 2021 CMENAS colloquium, which will be focused on the topic, “Public Health and Pandemics across the MENA: A Multidisciplinary Exhibition". Additional details are forthcoming, but include the following dates:

    • Oct 6, Oct 13, Oct 20, and Oct 27, 2021 

    • Nov 3, Nov 10, and Nov 17, 2021   

  • A full list of presentation titles, speakers and a registration link will be forthcoming. All are invited to tune in and participate!

CMENAS at U-M continues to be a leader in Middle Eastern and North African studies, with world-class degree programs, public outreach, faculty research, and a vibrant student life. If you would like to invest in our work with moral and material support, please reach out to us. To everyone in CMENAS and across the university community, welcome back, and Go Blue!


Warm Regards,


Ryan Szpiech, PhD
Director (Interim)


Muzammil M. Hussain, PhD
Associate Director