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Department Awards

The awards administered by the Department of Near Eastern Studies recognize student success in various ways—through writing, overall academic performance, and achievements in teaching. Please note that eligibility varies by award. Please see the award descriptions for additional information. 

George G. Cameron Award in Near Eastern Studies

George G. Cameron, a scholar of ancient philology and history, was the “founding father” of the Department of Near Eastern Studies. He served as department chair from the department’s inception in February 1949 until June 1969. During his tenure as chair, Professor Cameron formed the foundations of a department that covers an enormous chronological depth with inter- and multidisciplinary breadth. His vision of “a genuine area program—one which would possess sufficient respect for the contributions of the ancient and medieval civilizations, yet would properly put adequate emphasis on the modern or contemporary” guides the department to this day. This award provides a monetary prize.

Eligibility

Applicants for the award must be graduating seniors who hold a major in Near Eastern Studies and have an academic record of excellence within the program. 

Application Procedure

The following items will be required for a complete application:

  • A reflection paper detailing the impact of the applicant’s Near Eastern studies coursework on their understanding of the region or overall worldview (2 pages, double-spaced).
  • Two letters of recommendation from University of Michigan faculty (preferably within the Department of Near Eastern Studies). No more than one letter may come from a language instructor.

Application Deadline

All material must be submitted electronically to NES-awards@umich.edu by 5:00pm on March 15. Late or incomplete applications will not be considered.

Selection Process

The award recipient will be selected by members of the NES Undergraduate Committee and the department chair. Applicants will be informed of the decision no later than April 1. The awardee will be recognized at the Near Eastern Studies Graduation and Awards Ceremony held at the end of the Winter term. 

Hajja Razia Sheikh Sharif Scholarship

Hajja Razia Sharif Sheikh was a native of Lahore, Pakistan (born November 16, 1920; died February 16, 1989). She was the mother of a Southeast Michigan Islamic community member, who endowed this scholarship in her memory.

Mrs. Sheikh was active in her community and a leader in her faith. Although Mrs. Sheikh was schooled at home in a traditional manner and did not receive a formal education, she held a strong belief in education and encouraged all eight of her children to pursue college studies. 

This award provides a monetary prize to up to two undergraduate students annually for the best essay written in an Islamic studies course.

Eligibility

The award is open to all currently enrolled undergraduate students who have taken a Department of Near Eastern Studies Islamic studies course during the previous Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall terms.  

Submission Procedure

A call for submissions will be sent to all undergraduate students who have enrolled in an Islamic studies course in the previous Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall terms at the end of December each academic year. Papers must be submitted as PDFs to NES-awards@umich.edu by the deadline. A student must include their name, uniqname, UMID number, and the course and term for which the paper was written on the first page of the submission.

Submission Deadline

All submissions must be sent to NES-awards@umich.edu by 5:00 PM on February 1. Late submissions will not be considered.

Selection Procedure

Up to two awardees will be selected by the NES Undergraduate Committee in consultation with the department chair. Applicants will be notified in late February regarding the award decision. The awardee will be recognized at the Near Eastern Studies Graduation and Awards Ceremony held at the end of the Winter term. 

Hajja Razia Sheikh Sharif Travel and Study Fund

Hajja Razia Sharif Sheikh was a native of Lahore, Pakistan (born November 16, 1920; died February 16, 1989). She was the mother of a Southeast Michigan Islamic community member, who endowed this scholarship in her memory.

Mrs. Sheikh was active in her community and a leader in her faith. Although Mrs. Sheikh was schooled at home in a traditional manner and did not receive a formal education, she held a strong belief in education and encouraged all eight of her children to pursue college studies. 

This fund provides one monetary award annually to an undergraduate student who will pursue research or study abroad in Islamic studies.

Eligibility

The award is open to all undergraduate students in the Department of Near Eastern Studies. Applicants must be in good academic standing. Winter term graduating seniors will not be considered. The award may be used in conjunction with other awards from the Department and other sources internal and external to the University of Michigan.

Application Procedure

All applicants must submit the following materials:

  • Personal statement: a one-page narrative about yourself and your interest in Islamic studies
  • A proposal of study: no more than a three-page narrative description of how the award will be used and why it is beneficial to your academic or professional goals 
  • One letter of recommendation from someone who can speak to your proposed plan of study and academic performance as a student or researcher
  • An unofficial copy of your UM transcript
  • Not required but encouraged: any supporting documents that further explain the potential use of the award or your proposed plan of study/research

Application Deadline

All application materials must be submitted to NES-awards@umich.edu by 5:00 PM on March 1.  Late or incomplete applications will not be considered.

Selection Procedure

An awardee will be selected by the NES Undergraduate Committee in consultation with the department chair. Applicants will be notified in late March regarding the award decision. The awardee will be recognized at the Near Eastern Studies Graduation and Awards Ceremony held at the end of the Winter term. 

Shuckran Kamal and Julia Segall-Derfler Memorial Award

The Shuckran Kamal and Julia Segall-Derfler Memorial Award celebrates the life of Julia Segall-Derfler, and her great personal commitment to the value of sharing the diversity of human culture and experience as a means to promote understanding among peoples of the world. An Ann Arbor native and a graduate of Georgetown University, Julia pursued a career in translation at the U.S. Department of State, Office of Language Services. There, she was mentored by Shuckran Kamal, who nurtured Julia’s love of languages and encouraged her professional growth. Julia Segall-Derfler passed away in November 2007. The award was initially inspired and supported by Julia’s mentor, Shuckran Kamal, a Senior Arabic Translator at the U.S. Department of State, as a way to honor their special relationship. After the death of Shuckran Kamal in 2014, the award was modified to honor their joint dedication to the fields of language and translation. 

One award will be presented annually. This award provides a monetary prize. The Shuckran Kamal and Julia Segall-Derfler Memorial Award will support an LSA student in the area of Arabic or Hebrew language in the Department of Near Eastern Studies. The award recognizes promising language students with an interest in language translation. The award may be used to support educational expenses, research, travel, or internship experiences. The award may be used in conjunction with other awards from the Department and other sources internal and external to the University of Michigan.  

ELIGIBILITY

Applicants must have a record of excellence within the program and be in good academic standing. Students must be from a department/unit within the College of LSA. Both undergraduate and graduate students are eligible to apply, with preference given towards graduate students in the selection process.

APPLICATION MATERIALS

The students enrolled in intermediate to advanced Arabic and Hebrew language courses in the Winter term will be notified of the award in mid-February each year. Students interested in being considered for the award should submit the following materials as email attachments to NES-awards@umich.edu:

  • A personal statement (not to exceed 2 double-spaced pages) that details your academic background in Arabic or Hebrew language study, your interest in language translation, and how your educational goals will help to promote understanding among peoples of the world; thus carrying on the work of Julia and Shuckran.
  • One letter of recommendation from an NES faculty member
  • An unofficial University of Michigan transcript

APPLICATION DEADLINE

All material must be submitted electronically to NES-awards@umich.edu by 5:00pm on March 15. Late or incomplete applications will not be considered.

SELECTION PROCESS

The award recipient will be selected by the Chair of the Department of Near Eastern Studies in consultation with the Executive Committee. The awardee will be recognized at the NES Graduation and Awards Ceremony held at the end of the Winter term. 

Nathan D. Metzger Award

The Nathan D. Metzger award was established in 1939 by Ruth R. Metzger of Detroit to honor the memory of her husband. The award recognizes a student for excellence in writing in post-Biblical Jewish history, literature, or philosophy. The award provides a monetary prize.

Eligibility

Undergraduate and graduate students are eligible to be nominated for this award.

Nomination Procedure

Faculty in the Department of Near Eastern Studies are invited to submit nominations for this award. A piece of writing (i.e. an essay) must accompany a faculty member's nomination of a student. The nomination should include a minimum of one paragraph from the recommender that notes the student's exceptional work and why they should be considered for this award. 

Nomination Deadline

All nominations must be submitted to NES-awards@umich.edu by April 1.

Selection Procedure

The award decision is made by the NES Awards Committee in early April. The award recipient will be acknowledged at the NES Graduation and Awards Ceremony held at the end of every Winter semester. 

Ernest McCarus Award in Arabic

The Ernest McCarus Award in Arabic is named for an NES emeritus faculty member, Professor Ernest McCarus, a gifted linguist and polyglot who has pioneered in the teaching of Arabic and Kurdish languages. Professor McCarus was a member of the Near Eastern Studies faculty from 1952 to 1995. This award recognizes one student annually who has demonstrated academic excellence in the NES Arabic Language Program, with preference given to undergraduate students. The award provides a monetary prize.

Eligibility

Undergraduate and graduate students in the NES Arabic Language Program are eligible to be nominated for this award.

Nomination Procedure

Each member of the Arabic language faculty in the Department of Near Eastern Studies is invited to nominate one student who they feel is deserving of the award. The nominations should be in the form of a short letter describing the nominee, why they were chosen, and how the nominee has performed above and beyond expectations in the current academic year.

Nomination Deadline

All nominations must be submitted to NES-awards @umich.edu by April 1.

Selection Procedure

Award decisions are made by the NES Awards Committee in early April. The award recipient will be recognized at the NES Graduation and Awards Ceremony held at the end of Winter term.

Michigan Center for Early Christian Studies Award

The Michigan Center for Early Christian Studies (MCECS) promotes the teaching of early Christian studies at the University of Michigan and is an internationally recognized center in the U.S. for the interdisciplinary study of Christian origins and antiquity. MCECS has created an award within the Department of Near Eastern Studies that recognizes undergraduate students who have excelled in coursework related to early Christian studies and graduate students who are making important scholarly contributions within the field. This award provides a monetary prize.

Eligibility

Undergraduate and graduate students are eligible to be nominated for this award. This award is not restricted to students declared or enrolled in the Department of Near Eastern Studies; students from any University of Michigan department are eligible for nomination.

Nomination Procedure

Faculty in the Department of Near Eastern Studies are invited to submit nominations for this award. Undergraduate nominees should have exceptional grades in classes focused on Early Christian studies or language related to the field (i.e. Greek). Graduate student nominees should have made valuable contributions to the field of Early Christian studies (i.e. publishing an article, presenting at a conference, organizing an academic event, etc.). The nomination should included a minimum of one paragraph from the recommender that notes the student's exceptional work and why they should be considered for this award. 

Nomination Deadline

All nominations must be submitted to NES-awards@umich.edu by April 1.

Selection Procedure

The award decision is made by the NES Awards Committee in early April. The award recipient will be acknowledged at the NES Graduation and Awards Ceremony held at the end of the Winter term. 

Raji Rammuny Award for Teaching Arabic as a Foreign Language

This award is named for an NES emeritus faculty member, Professor Raji Rammuny, who has had an impressive and long-standing career within Arabic studies. Professor Rammuny was a member of the Near Eastern Studies faculty from 1966 to 2014. He is best known as a scholar in the methodology and practice of teaching Arabic at the university level, publishing many highly-regarded texts on these subjects. Professor Rammuny provides ongoing support to honor a graduate student each year with an award in teaching excellence. This award provides a monetary prize, and recognizes one graduate student a year who has demonstrated the following:

  • Superior academic achievement with a focus in Teaching Arabic as a Foreign Language
  • Commitment to teaching Arabic either currently or as a future profession
  • Active participation in professional activities related to Arabic language and pedagogy

Eligibility

Graduate students who have worked as an Arabic GSI during the current academic year are eligible to be nominated for this award. 

Nomination Procedure

Faculty in the Department of Near Eastern Studies are invited to submit nominations for this award. Nominations should be accompanied by a short letter describing the nominee, why they were chosen, and how the nominee meets the criteria listed above. 

Nomination Deadline

All nominations must be submitted to NES-awards@umich.edu by April 1.

Selection Procedure

Award decisions are made by the NES Awards Committee in early April. The award recipient will be recognized at the NES Graduation and Awards Ceremony held at the end of Winter term. 

Great Books of Islamic Civilization Prize

The Great Books of Islamic Civilization Prize recognizes up to two graduate students annually who have shown diligence in research, academic performance, and professional pursuits related to the study of Islam. Awardees receive a book of scholarly importance in the field of Islamic studies.

Eligibility

Nominees must be graduate students in the Department of Near Eastern Studies.

Nomination Procedure

Faculty in the Department of Near Eastern Studies are invited to submit nominations for this award. Nominations are accepted from a student's advisor or from a faculty member who has been working closely with the student.  Nominations should come in the form of a short letter (no more than one page), describing the nominee, why they have been chosen, and how the nominee has met the specifications of the award listed above.  

Nomination Deadline

Nominations must be submitted to NES-awards@umich.edu by April 1.

Selection Procedure

Award decisions are made by the NES Department Chair in early April. The award recipient will be recognized at the NES Graduation and Awards Ceremony held at the end of Winter term. 

George F. and Celeste Hourani Memorial Scholarship

George Fadlo Hourani was a founding faculty member in the Department of Near Eastern Studies. He taught at the University of Michigan from 1950 to 1967. He is best known as a philosopher, historian, and classicist in the areas of Islamic philosophy, rationalism, and ethics. He wrote many popular texts on these subjects during his lifetime, such as Averroes on the Harmony of Religion and Philosophy (1967), Islamic Rationalism: The Ethics of ‘Abd al-Jabbar (1971), and Reason and Tradition in Islamic Ethics (1985). Before his death in September 1984, he was the President of the American Oriental Society in 1978 and a recognized Distinguished Professor of Islamic Thought and Civilization in 1980. Hourani’s wife, Celeste, was a strong supporter of her husband throughout his career and scholarship. The George F. and Celeste Hourani Memorial Scholarship was created in their honor.

AWARD

The George F. and Celeste Hourani Memorial Scholarship will support a PhD candidate in the Department of Near Eastern Studies by providing a defense term fellowship. One award will be given each academic year. The fellowship will consist of full tuition, fees, and a stipend commensurate with a .50 GSI appointment. The award will only be given in the intended term of defense.

ELIGIBILITY

Applicants must have a record of excellence within the program and be in good academic standing. Applicants must be certain of defense in the next academic year and intend to use this fellowship in that term of defense. Only students whose funding package has come from the University of Michigan are eligible to apply.  

APPLICATION MATERIALS

The following items will be required for a complete application:

  • A Curriculum Vitae (CV)
  • A sample chapter from the dissertation
  • A detailed timeline for the completion of the dissertation with the anticipated term of defense
  • A letter of endorsement from the student’s advisor regarding the student’s progress towards the dissertation (how many chapters have been submitted, an evaluation of the quality of the writing, etc.); the advisor must state that the student will defend in the next academic year

APPLICATION DEADLINE

All materials must be submitted electronically to nes-gradservices@umich.edu by 5:00pm on April 1. Late or incomplete applications will not be considered.

SELECTION PROCESS

The award recipient will be selected by the Graduate Program Committee of the Department of Near Eastern Studies in consultation with the department chair.