Back to top
Scholar Rescue Fund

London, November 24, 2011 -- The Scholar Rescue Fund (SRF) of the Institute of International Education (IIE) is honored to have been selected as “Charity of the Year 2011” by Times Higher Education, and to have been recognized at the THE Leadership and Management Awards Ceremonies on June 16th and November 24th. These awards represent a unique opportunity to celebrate the excellence and achievements of UK higher education institutions and partnering organizations. 

The November 24 event was an outstanding occasion with over 1,200 chancellors, vice chancellors and other high level UK higher education sector representatives in attendance. SRF received recognition for its nine years of commitment to rescuing threatened scholars from around the world whose lives and careers are in danger.  The award was accepted by a close friend to IIE, Dr. Joanna Newman (pictured above), Director of the UK Higher Education International Unit (IU). Dr. Newman is also Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Southampton and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. An Iraqi SRF Scholar Grantee joined Dr. Newman at the podium and spoke to the audience about her experience as an SRF grant recipient.

The Iraqi Scholar was a researcher in the fields of political science and anthropology in Baghdad for more than five years and taught courses on international relations, political systems, and human rights. The Scholar’s research includes work on American foreign policy towards the Middle East, Iraqi politics and political systems, and Iraqi foreign policy. Awarded SRF support in August 2009, the Scholar joined an exemplary Higher Education Institution in the UK in 2010. The Iraqi Scholar’s participation in the Times Higher Education event was supported as part of the SRF Hite Chair Scholar Lecture Series, established through the generosity of the Hite Foundation Chair for Communications of the Scholar Rescue Fund.

The awards event reaffirmed the UK higher education sector’s commitment to the mission of the Scholar Rescue Fund. Donations that evening, and at the June 2011 ceremony where IIE Trustee and SRF Board Member Denise Benmosche accepted the award on behalf of SRF, totaled more than $25,000.  With this overwhelming response from THE community, the event has also ignited the interest of potential new SRF host institutions in the UK. 

Please also see our news release about the June 16th Times Higher Education Awards Ceremony here

Remarks by Dr. Joanna Newman and an SRF Iraqi Scholar, November 24th:


Good evening. 

I am Joanna Newman, Director of the UK Higher Education International Unit. 

I am privileged to accept the prestigious Times Higher Education’s Charity of the Year honor on behalf of the IIE.

Since its founding in 1919, IIE has rescued many thousands of scholars and students and helped them get out of harm’s way and to relocate to safety

I am gratified that [an Iraqi SRF Scholar], a recipient of the Fund, is my guest this evening.

For more than five years [was a lecturer in the fields of political science and anthropology in Baghdad]. [The Iraqi Scholar] was a member of Women’s Solidarity for an Independent and Unified Iraq, the Arab Association for Political Sciences, and the International Initiative for Solidarity with Iraqi Academics.

With the help of the Scholar Rescue Fund and the UK’s own Council for Assisting Refugee Academics, this [Iraqi Scholar] joined [an exemplary higher education institution in the UK].

Scholars think and speak the truth and so they are often the first to feel the jackboot of history and the first tyrants want to get rid of.  The Bolshevik Revolution, Mussolini’s Italy, Nazi Germany, the Hungarian Uprising, Tiananmen Square and more were all coupled with scholarly oppression.

Let me show you what the Fund does with this video. [SRF video played]

That was a powerful reminder that the Fund is about helping real people, in real danger, who are in real pain, and who are in great need of support, especially by members of the higher education community.

One goal of oppressing scholars is to shut them up, their firing, forced exile, and murder causes countless other scholars to be careful about what they say and write, who they say it to, and who they feel they can trust. 

When students and scholars see one of their colleagues arrested or killed for their ideas, this has a dangerous ripple effect that silences them as well. 

The Scholar Rescue Fund is an antidote to this.  By aiming to rescue the most senior, most threatened scholars in the world, the Fund spreads hope.  It also shows repressive forces and persecuted scholars alike that someone is watching and someone cares.

Please give generously to the Fund, refer threatened scholars to the Fund and consider having your university host a threatened scholar – I know many universities present already do – it should be part of every university’s international strategy.

Dig deep!

Thank you Dr. Newman.

It is my honor to be standing at this podium in the company of so many distinguished UK academics.

I wish that I had all night to tell you my whole story and inform you about the situation in my beloved Iraq, but I am told that I only have one minute to speak and therefore I can only create a quick sketch.

More than 500 of Iraq’s academics and medical professionals have been brutally assassinated in the last eight years.

This has not yet ended, and this year more than a dozen professors have been murdered in the streets of Iraq.

That is a fact.

Another sad circumstance is that many thousands of Iraq’s best scholars have fled the danger of the ongoing conflict, and we are now part of the Iraqi displaced refugee academics who are scattered all around the globe. 

With the tremendous support of the Institute of International Education’s Scholar Rescue Fund, and their many safe haven university partners around the world including here in the United Kingdom, the lives and careers of more than 240 Iraqi academics have been saved.

Iraq’s scholars are indeed very grateful for the Fund’s principled mission.

Please think how you can help support this vital work that benefits persecuted and at-risk scholars from around the world.

Thank you.