Professor emeritus dies at 84

Near Eastern Language studies founder known for love of teaching



Wadie Jwaideh, professor emeritus of history and Near Eastern languages and cultures and, died last week. He was 84.

He founded the Near Eastern studies program at IU and was chairman of the department for 15 years.

Known for his love of teaching and working with students, Jwaideh was willing to work for months with students on projects, said Professor Emeritus Salih Altoma.

"I have not met in my life a man of his depth and breadth as far as his encyclopedic knowledge," Altoma said. "What is remarkable about him is that he was more concerned with his teaching and with the training of his students than his own personal research."

Alumnus Hussein Kadhim, assistant professor in the department of Asian and Middle Eastern languages and literatures at Dartmouth College, said Jwaideh was always willing to help students, even after he retired.

"When I joined the program he had already retired," Kadhim said. "But he was always willing to talk to students. He would never say no to a student, undergraduate or graduate. He was very gracious."

Jwaideh received the Lieber Memorial Award for Distinguished Teaching in 1971, and was well-known throughout the world for his knowledge, especially in Kurdish studies.

"His knowledge was absolutely extraordinary," Kadhim said. "It's practically unmatched anywhere else. His presence at IU brought great prestige to the institution."

As a scholar in both history and Islamic studies, Altoma said Jwaideh was a great asset to both departments.

"Keep in mind the fact he was teaching in both Near Eastern languages and culture and the department of history," Altoma said. "After him we had no other historian to teach Islamic civilization at IU, which is a great loss."

Jwaideh began his career at IU in 1960 as a faculty member in the Asian studies program. He was charged with creating a program in Arabic studies, and in 1965 he became the first chairman of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Literatures. The annual Wadie Jwaideh Distinguished Lecture in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies is named after him.

Bloomington Chancellor Kenneth Gros Louis said Jwaideh, who used to live down the street from him, was an excellent leader of the department.

"He a very scholarly, serious person with very good contacts in the Near Eastern world, both in this country and abroad," Gros Louis said. "He was particularly well-known for being a very meticulous director of doctoral dissertations."

Jwaideh led the department until 1980. He retired in 1985 after 25 years of teaching.

Originally from Basrah, Iraq, Jwaideh graduated with a law degree from the University of Baghdad and worked in Iraq as a translator and legal adviser with the British and Iraqi governments.

Jwaideh moved to the United States in 1946 and worked as a translator and researcher. He earned his doctorate degree from the Maxwell Graduate School of Public Affairs at Syracuse University in 1960.

He was born July 1, 1916 to Elias and Miriam Narmeen Sinsar Jwaideh. He married Alice Reid in 1950. They had two children, Dara Narmeen and Layl Diane.

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