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November 20, 1997


To the editor:

I understand that members of the University of Pittsburgh community are considering an appropriate academic memorial to the late University Professor Richard W. Cottam. I am writing to suggest that an appropriate memorial to him would be the establishment of an academic fund for the promotion of the study of Middle Eastern politics.

Being here at the American University in Bulgaria, I have not been able to follow these discussions except through friends. Consequently, I do not know what kind of financial resources are available or how they will be raised. So, I can only warmly suggest that an appropriate memorial would be the establishment of a graduate fellowship or a university chair to support the unbiased and empathetic study of internal and international politics in the Middle East. Professor Cottam devoted his professional life to undermining stereotypes of the Middle East while formulating general theoretical insights based on his empirical knowledge of the area. Consequently, the establishment of a graduate student fellowship (or even a University chair?) devoted to the study of the Arab or Iranian peoples of the Middle East, which would be awarded to a junior (or senior?) scholar who continues to focus on the stereotypical-psychological underpinnings of political conflict in the Middle East would be the most appropriate memorial to his legacy.

Professor Cottam was a very powerful intellectual influence on me, as well as a dear and valuable friend, during my graduate school years in Pitt's political science department. I think, if you poll his former students, you will be struck by their comments.

Benedict E. DeDominicis

Assistant Professor Political Science

American University in Bulgaria

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