New Leadership at King Fahd Center

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Dean Donald Bobbitt has appointed Tom Paradise, professor of geography in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, as the interim director of the King Fahd Center for Middle East and Islamic Studies at the University of Arkansas. Former director Vince Cornell has accepted a position at Emory University in Atlanta.

Paradise has a diverse background in North African and Middle Eastern geography, architecture, environmental studies and cartography and is an expert on the deterioration of stone architectural structures. He has served as a consultant for agencies in Italy, Great Britain, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Lebanon and Jordan as well as the U.S. State Department.

“Dr. Paradise is noted for his research in several fields, including cultural resource management. His work has been published in three books, numerous chapters and more than 40 peer-reviewed papers. I have every confidence in his ability to lead one of our most active and important area study programs,” said Donald Bobbitt.

Before coming to Arkansas in 2000, Paradise was a professor of geography and environmental and regional studies programs at the University of Hawaii. He has taught abroad at Universities in Rome, Venice, Amman and Beirut as well as in Georgia, Hawaii, Arizona and California.

He has conducted research on the unique decaying architecture of Petra, Jordan, since the 1980s, with new research sites including North Africa and the Levant, and has mentored more than twenty students on their research and studies.

“Most American Middle East programs have a political or historical focus, but the King Fahd Center at Arkansas has increasingly developed new directions in research and teaching that are setting it apart from the other programs,” Paradise said. “The center will continue to support graduate and faculty research in exceptional fields such as water resource studies, historic preservation, music and art, cultural studies, and regional sciences. New graduate research paths include such wide-ranging topics as tourism in Tunisia, water management in Pakistan, earthquakes in Morocco, Islamic law in the U.S., desert expansion across Jordan, and cultural trends across North Africa - all bringing an expanded worldwide interest to our growing program and center.”

Paradise joined the faculty of the geography division of geosciences at the university in the fall of 2000. His work on architectural deterioration has been supported by various international agencies, including the National Science Foundation, the Petra National Trust, the U.S. State Department and the Jordanian Department of Antiquities.

Also a noted cartographer, he served as director of cartography for the award winning Atlas of Hawaii. In addition to offering numerous seminars on the Middle East, he is responsible for the department's cartography program and for teaching courses on the geography of the Middle East and North Africa.


Tom Paradise, interim director
King Fahd Center for Middle East and Islamic Studies
J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences
(479) 575-4359,

Lynn Fisher, communications director
Fulbright College
(479) 575-7272,


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