Department of Political Science hires Middle Eastern studies professor

Geneseo hired a new professor for its Department of Political Science and International Relations, who will teach classes on international politics and United States foreign policy. Ibrahim specializes in the Middle East. (Courtesy of Raslan Ibrahim)

The Department of Political Science and International Relations has hired a new tenure-track professor, who will start in fall 2017. The professor, Raslan Ibrahim, is a specialist in the Middle East. 

Geneseo has not had its own Middle East specializing political science professor since the retirement of former professor of political science Edward Drachman in 2015. Ibrahim will also be a tenure-track professor, who will teach classes on international politics and United States foreign policy, according to professor and Chair of Political Science and International Relations Jeffrey Koch. 

“When somebody retires, we don’t necessarily automatically think that we need to cover the courses that the person used to cover,” he said. “In this case, we thought some of the courses were so important that they needed to be covered again. Additionally, [Ibrahim] will also teach courses in human rights and international relations and probably other courses that haven’t been worked out yet.” 

The Department of Political Science and International Relations underwent multiple months of searches after the position was posted in October 2016. Eventually, the pool was narrowed down to three candidates. These three candidates came to campus to meet with some students and faculty, to demonstrate research capabilities and to teach a class, according to Koch. 

“We thought that he interacted well with students and made a good presentation,” Koch said. 

International relations senior Maria Gershuni, who attended a question and answer session with Ibrahim, expressed the same sentiment. 

“I thought his presentation was fascinating and I thought that the way he interacted with the students was really genuine, which was refreshing,” she said. “I would describe him as knowledgeable, but approachable. The one thing I would say is that he needs to feel confident in his role so he can really project that kind of charisma that political science professors project.” 

Ibrahim originally became interested in the position after seeing a posting for it online, according to a phone interview with him. When he came to the campus itself, he was also impressed by what he felt was an inclusive atmosphere. Ibrahim’s decision to accept the position came after a few considerations.

“First is that Geneseo is a public four-year liberal arts college with a focus on teaching, which appeals to me because I love teaching,” he said. “I liked the mission of the school because it’s welcoming in my view.  I’m also excited about the courses that I’m going to teach because they fit my interests very well.”

Ibrahim’s appreciation for Geneseo itself was another quality that Gershuni appreciated. 

“He made a comment that really resonated with me,” she said. “He said that he loved the Town of Geneseo and that he wanted to move here ... If he settles down in the Town of Geneseo, he could be on campus often, which basically indicates that he’s planning to be very involved.”

When he starts working at Geneseo in the fall, Ibrahim will be teaching two classes: U.S. Foreign Policy and Politics of the Middle East. Beyond his coursework, Ibrahim expressed interest in being involved with the campus community. 

“Besides my responsibility in contributing to the political science department, I would also be happy to give public lectures,” he said. “My goal is not just to teach in the classroom, but to provide resources to the society as best I can.”

History major junior Chris Tursellino, who plans on taking one of Ibrahim’s classes next semester, also got to see him teach. 

“I think that the Middle East is a pretty important region, so having a specialist is a necessary thing,” he said. “I’ve always felt that the political science department is lightly staffed, and I feel like they could always use more professors in general. So, a hiring is a good thing itself, and a hiring of this particular specialist is extra good.”