Campaign in respect to Professor Jeffrey Ullman’s racial remarks against Iranians

Dear all,

I have sent the following messages to the administration and entire faculty of Stanford University, in order to make them aware of racial remarks of Professor Ullman, and the admission practices of the Computer Science Department of Stanford in regards to the graduate students applying from Iranian universities.

Since the distribution of my first email last week many organizations, students associations, and individuals have sent messages to Dr. Ullman and Stanford University officials.

Some people could not believe that a professor at Stanford University would express his personal political views in a response to a student, and post it on his public website. For this reason I am copying the entire correspondence between the student and Professor Ullman here chronologically.

I would like to thank the students who in the last 48 hours were able to collect the contact information of all Stanford faculty members.

Regards,

Fredun Hojabri

Notice: After the campaign Professor Ullman removed the racial remarks against Iranians from his website.

=====================================

 

Letter to Dean Saller, Stanford:

December 31, 2010

Dear Dean Saller,

Greetings, I hope my email on the last day of Year 2010 finds you well.

I had the pleasure of seeing you on the panel at the PFAP ’09 Event in October of 2009 in Palo Alto, where you spoke eloquently on the need to protect and preserve this unique historical Achaemenid Archive, currently at the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago.

I am writing to you today about another matter that is very important to the Iranian-American community and near and dear to my own heart, as the former Professor and Academic-Vice Chancellor of Sharif university of Technology [formerly Aryamehr University] in Iran.

I would like to bring the following post “Answers to All Questions Iranian” from Dr. Jeffrey D. Ullman, Stanford W. Ascherman Professor of Computer Science (Emeritus) to your attention. Full text is copied below for your convenience.

http://infolab.stanford.edu/~ullman/

http://infolab.stanford.edu/~ullman/pub/iranian.html

As you know, there are many Sharif University graduates at Stanford University and the relationship between Sharif and Stanford Universities are very cordial.  However, Dr. Ullman has sent the response [below] to a Sharif graduate seeking admission to Stanford Computer department:

“You need to read infolab.stanford.edu/~ullman/pub/formresponse.html

And even if I were in a position to help, I will not help Iranian  students until Iran recognizes and respects Israel as the land of the
Jewish people.  I know that you may not hold the same insane position as the mullahs that run your country, but it is a matter of principle.
If Iranians want the benefits of Stanford and other institutions in the US, they have to respect the values we hold in the US, including
freedom of religion and respect for human rights.

regards.
—jdu”

While I myself have no idea who is [or are] behind the emails to Dr. Ullman and why he is even asked to comment on political issues that are not even within the scope of his academic expertise, I am equally baffled as to why Dr. Ullman is allowed to use Stanford University as a platform for expressing his own personal and in my view very polemic views Iranians and Muslims in general.

Of course Dr. Ullman is entitled to his personal opinion but surely Stanford is not the place to express such views.

I would appreciate any insight that you might have in this matter and I look forward to hearing from you.

Happy New Year and Best Regards,

Fredun Hojabri

Former Professor and Academic-Vice Chancellor, Sharif university of Technology

 

Letter to Professor Ullman

To: ullman@cs.stanford.edu

Subject: To whom belong the natural resources of a country?

Dear Dr. Ullman:

 

I was forwarded your email below.  While I think it is not advisable to reply to these types of anonymous emails, since it is impossible to know who is asking and why, I am happy to share my own position on nationalization of oil industry in Iran and the question of ownership of natural resources of a country with you:

 

1- I believe according to the legal contract, the Anglo Iranian Oil Company was given the right to develop the oil resources, not to own it.

 

2- Dr. Mosaddegh offered to compensate the Anglo Iranian Oil Company, if they accept the nationalization of Iranian oil industry.

 

3- In my view, the natural resources of a country belong to the people of that country, not to a foreign company that helps in developing the resources of that country.  Sixty years ago England brought the owner issue to the International Court of Hague and the court decided against England.

 

4- I think, however, that the issue of ownership of natural resources is decided by the parties to the legal contract to develop such resources.  I am personally not aware of any country who has assigned such ownership rights to a foreign company.

 

Regards,

 

Fredun Hojabri

Former Professor and Academic-Vice Chancellor, Sharif university of Technology

 

 

January 5, 2011

An Appeal to Our Colleagues at Stanford University

 As academics, we all strive to treat our students equally and impartially.  We strongly believe that our students have a right to be treated equally, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, and religion and political views.

While we do recognize that many share these key values, we are particularly dismayed when we are confronted with evidence to the contrary at a great academic institution such as Stanford University.

It seems that Dr. Jeffery Ullman, professor emeritus at the Computer Science Department of Stanford University, has been sending strange and controversial responses to Iranian students who seek admission to this department.  Here are the links to Dr. Ullman’s views on his website. His post “Answers to All Questions Iranian” is self-explanatory:

http://infolab.stanford.edu/~ullman/pub/iranian.html

Contrary to Dr. Ullman’s statements, every year hundreds of Iranian students are admitted to graduate and PhD studies to top US universities, many of them to Stanford University.  But Dr. Ullman is correct in pointing out that Iranian students are not accepted nor welcomed at the Computer Science Department of Stanford. It seems not even the Gold Medalists in Students World Computer Competition from Sharif University are considered for admission to the PhD Program at Stanford.  I have been told that many bright Iranian students in the Computer Science field don’t even apply to Stanford any longer!

Sharif University is the same university that the Chairman of the Electrical Engineering Department of Stanford recently called its EE Department: “One of the best in the world!”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s957W6jomBc

On December 31, 2010, I shared my concerns with Dr. Richard Saller, Dean of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford University, who graciously forwarded my email to Dr. John Hennessy, the President of Stanford University, for further investigation.

While I await a favorable response from Dr. Hennessy, I wanted to reach out to you as colleagues and seek your assistance with removing any hint of discriminatory admission practices of the Computer Science Department that reflects poorly on the stellar reputation of Stanford University.

 

Best Regards,

Dr. Fredun Hojabri

Former Professor and Academic Vice-president of Sharif University of Technology

=============================================================

Letter of the student to Professor Ullman

On Mon, Nov 22, 2010 at 10:56 PM, –removed– wrote:

Dear Professor Ullman,

I’m a senior B.Sc. student of Computer Engineering (software) at Sharif
University of Technology in Iran. The average GPA of my last 3 semesters
is 17.19 out of 20.
I will apply to Stanford University for PhD program and considering the
fact that your research area is one of the most interesting areas in
computer science and also most of my experience as well as my educational
background have been in the same field, I have a published paper on
reducing synchronizablity of Brain Networks, in Chaos Journal(Volume 20,
043119, Nov. 2010). I have done a work on a grid-based and
scale-independent clustering algorithm with time complexity of O(n) and it
is submitted to PAKDD conference. I also submitted a paper on a knowledge
based framework to style driven architecture design to ACIID conference.
Currently, I am working on another research in software engineering about
reconstructing software architecture in a knowledge driven platform.

I would really appreciate if you could let me know about the possibility
of any opening in your research team. For further information, my resume
is also attached to this email. I am eagerly looking forward to hearing
from you.

Sincerely yours,

 

 

Response of Professor Ullman to the student

Subject: Re: Prospective student interested in Data Mining and Data Base
From:    “Jeffrey Ullman” <ullman@gmail.com
Date:    Tue, November 23, 2010 9:45 pm
To:     –removed–

You need to read infolab.stanford.edu/~ullman/pub/formresponse.html

And even if I were in a position to help, I will not help Iranian
students until Iran recognizes and respects Israel as the land of the
Jewish people.  I know that you may not hold the same insane position
as the mullahs that run your country, but it is a matter of principle.
If Iranians want the benefits of Stanford and other institutions in
the US, they have to respect the values we hold in the US, including
freedom of religion and respect for human rights.

regards,

—jdu”

Original posting of Professor Ullman’s that has now been changed: