The new Mirza-Barzinji Fund for Global Virtual Learning was established through a gift from Mirza Family Foundation, and its Oct. 3 announcement kicked off the second day of the Barzinji Institute’s first conference at the university.
Dr. M. Yaqub Mirza, a member of both the Shenandoah University Board of Trustees and the Mirza Family Foundation, as well as a close friend of the late Dr. Barzinji, said the fund will support the institute, which will act as a perpetual charity from which people can benefit forever.
The Barzinji Institute for Global Virtual Learning connects institutions around the world to work collaboratively in the classroom and on service projects, ultimately inspiring greater understanding between diverse cultures and perspectives.
“Respect for humanity is the foundation of all interaction,” is a quote from Dr. Barzinji which appears often in Barzinji Institute communications and also describes the soul of the institute’s mission. Dr. Barzinji passed away eight years ago, in September, the month before Dr. Mirza joined Shenandoah’s Board of Trustees. Dr. Mirza, who now chairs the BOT’s academic affairs committee, was also instrumental in bringing the Center for Islam in the Contemporary World to Shenandoah’s Scholar Plaza, Loudoun location.
The institute’s goals reflect the life, work, and legacy of Dr. Barzinji, whose wife and son were present at the conference. Dr. Barzinji was an intellectual, educator and community builder and a patient, generous man of deep Muslim faith who prized diversity, loved bringing people together, and was dedicated to making the world a better place.
Shenandoah University President Tracy Fitzsimmons, Ph.D., offered deep thanks to the Mirza Family Foundation for the gift:
“Today we are going to recognize and thank them for this extraordinary fund that they are giving, that is going to allow us to continue this work year after year. From the bottom of my heart, on behalf of the faculty, staff and students at Shenandoah but also all of our partner institutions across the world who get to benefit from this project, thank you to you, Yaqub, and to Tanveer and to your four wonderful children. We are deeply grateful.”
Dr. Fitzsimmons also noted that the Barzinji Institute provides people from widely varying backgrounds with an opportunity to ask hard questions of each other, respectfully, in hopes of improving their understanding of one another and the world around them.
She also noted that sharp-eyed observers could see that she and Mirza signed more than one set of documents after the fund’s announcement, and promised further news this fall.