The U.Va. Women’s Center is pleased to announce the selection of Farzaneh Milani as the recipient of the 2015 Elizabeth Zintl Leadership Award. Milani is the current chair of the Department of Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Cultures (MESALC) and the previous director of Women, Gender and Sexuality (WGS) at U.Va. She has been a U.Va. professor for almost 30 years, teaching in both MESALC and WGS. Milani is a renowned writer, inspiring teacher and leading scholar of gender and literature in Iranian language and culture.
U.Va. WGS Professor Denise Walsh shared in her nomination letter for Milani that “her dedication is born of a certainty that we are here to serve one another, so that future generations of academics and students might forge new paths for our community to learn and grow.”
The Zintl award is presented annually by the Women’s Center in memory of Elizabeth Zintl, an accomplished writer and journalist, who served as Chief of Staff in the Office of the President at the University. Given to a woman employee at U.Va., the award honors the high degree of professionalism, creativity and commitment that characterized Zintl’s significant contributions to the University.
Milani received her B.A. in French Literature from California State University at Hayward in 1970, her M.A. and PH.D. in Comparative Literature from UCLA.
As a prolific writer, Milani has published more than 100 articles, epilogues, forewords and afterwards in Persian and English. She has written opinion pieces and commentaries for such national publications as the New York Times, the Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, Ms. Magazine, Readers Digest and USA Today. In addition, she has authored groundbreaking and prize-winning books on women writers in Iran, such as Veils and Words: the Emerging Voices of Iranian Women Writers (1992) and Words not Swords: Iranian Women Writers and Freedom of Movement (2011).
As an engaging speaker, she has presented more than 240 lectures nationally and internationally. She has made media appearances on CSPAN, PBS, BBC and NPR. U.Va. English Professor Jahan Ramazani described in his nomination letter how he has observed Milani “deliver lectures in which she begins by wearing a veil, brilliantly challenging the preconceptions that some students have about Middle Eastern women.”
Ramazani goes on to explain that Milani is a dynamic teacher who not only challenges her students but also shows compassion as she has “devoted mentorship and individual concern for each and every one of the people who study with her.”
A Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English at U.Va., Marie Ostby, confirmed this description in her nomination letter for Milani. For the past five years, Milani has served as “an incomparable role model and an unparalleled source of wisdom, support and guidance.” Ostby cites Milani as inspiration for her entire academic path. Milani’s book Veils and Words inspired her undergraduate senior thesis and Ostby is now finishing her dissertation under Milani’s supervision.
Milani received the All University Teaching Award in 1998 and was nominated for Virginia Faculty of the Year in 1999.
In her nomination letter for Milani, U.Va. French Professor Mary B. McKinley noted the prestige that Milani has repeatedly brought to the MESALC and WGS departments, as well as the University as a whole, through her OpEd pieces and interviews. However, McKinley emphasized that her nomination of Milani was based more on “the love that she has inspired in her students and colleagues, the gratitude for her unflagging dedication and generosity to the University.”
The U.Va. Women’s Center’s Elizabeth Zintl Leadership Award uses a pan-university nomination and selection process. The award is made possible through the generosity of the late David A. Harrison III, a friend of Zintl and a great benefactor to the University of Virginia. The 2015 Elizabeth Zintl Leadership Award selection committee is comprised of faculty and staff from across the University.
The Elizabeth Zintl Leadership Award carries a $1,000 prize for the honoree to use for her professional or personal development and will be presented at a celebratory recognition ceremony in October 2015.
Read more about Milani in U.Va. Today’s September 2015 interview with her.
For more information about the award ceremony click here.
Story by Agnes Filipowski