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Admissions suspension lifted for UCLA Islamic studies program

April 13, 2011 |  5:35 pm

UCLA's Graduate Council has lifted a three-year admissions suspension for its Islamic studies program and has begun accepting applications for the fall term.

Admissions to the program, among the oldest in the country focused on a scholarly study of Islam, were suspended after a 2007 review found ongoing issues with class availability, lack of advisors and faculty, and little funding. Last fall, a group of students began a petition and campaign, worried that the prolonged academic review and reorganization of the program would lead to its eventual closure.

“I’m hoping this is the restart of a very fine academic program,” said Ann Karagozian, chairwoman of UCLA's Academic Senate, which oversees the Graduate Council.

Despite the uphill battle, program chairman Khaled Abou El Fadl said he hoped to "start putting this program on the map again.”

“It’s official now, late, but at least it’s done,” said Abou El Fadl, also a UCLA law professor. “I’m relieved more than anything.”

The program will accept applications until May 22, but the suspension was lifted too late for some students who had to accept other graduate schools' offers before the April 15 deadline for most universities.

One such student is Ilona Gerbakher, a UCLA senior majoring in Middle Eastern and North African studies, who began the student campaign.

“I'm ecstatic that the suspension has been lifted,” Gerbakher wrote in a recent email, but she added that two weeks earlier, unsure of the fate of the UCLA program, she had accepted a full scholarship to a similar program at Harvard University.

-- Raja Abdulrahim