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ND will still pursue controversial scholars

Claire Heininger | Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Despite a semester-long struggle with the U.S. State Department over the revoked visa of Tariq Ramadan, who resigned from the faculty Dec. 13, the University will continue to pursue international and Muslim scholars of distinction, said R. Scott Appleby, director of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies.”Certainly we won’t be discouraged in any respect from hiring international scholars, Muslim scholars or controversial scholars,” Appleby said. Notre Dame sought out Ramadan not to stir up controversy but to provoke critical discussion between religions, which remains a goal, Appleby said. And though the scholar’s problems with the government – the State Department revoked his visa in August, on the recommendation of the Homeland Security Administration – cost the Kroc significant time and energy, Appleby said Ramadan’s specific difficulties will not outweigh the Institute’s overall pursuit of diverse opinions and academic freedom.”The Muslim voice needs to be heard on campus and in the country,” he said. Ramadan resigned his appointment as the Henry R. Luce Professor of Religion, Conflict and Peacebuilding at the end of the fall semester, writing to Appleby that the unresolved situation was taking a stressful toll on him and his family. The scholar had reapplied for a visa in October through the U.S. Embassy in his native Switzerland but had received no word from the State Department at the time of his resignation, Appleby said.Ramadan’s visa is unlikely to be granted now that a teaching appointment does not await him in the United States, Appleby said. The Luce professorship remains open, and Kroc officials will hold discussions with the Office of the Provost and the Luce Foundation in the coming weeks to determine its future. “I can’t predict how a future search would unfold, so I don’t know if we’ll wind up with someone from the Islamic world,” Appleby said, adding that the Luce position does not require a particular religion or background.Appleby remains in contact with Ramadan but has not received any definitive word on the scholar’s future plans.