Stanford Alumni Association Recognizes Abbas Milani

Tuesday, November 21, 2017
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Research Fellow Abbas Milani. Photo: Linda A. Cicero / Stanford News Service 

Research Fellow Abbas Milani. Photo: Linda A. Cicero / Stanford News Service 

The Stanford Alumni Association has awarded its 2017 Richard W. Lyman Award to Abbas Milani, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and the Hamid and Christina Moghadam Director of Iranian Studies at Stanford.

The award recognizes a single faculty member each year for his or her outstanding participation in Stanford alumni activities. The Alumni Association established the distinction in 1983 to honor Stanford president emeritus Richard W. Lyman, who led the university from 1970 to 1980.

“I was truly honored and humbled to receive the award,” said Milani. “The past winners are a most impressive array of great Stanford educators. To be in their midst is a daunting delight.”

Three other Hoover fellows have received the Lyman award: Davies Family Senior Fellow David Brady and Senior Fellows Larry Diamond and Norman Naimark. Considering his extensive work and engagement with the Stanford alumni community, it is no wonder Milani was selected to join them.

In addition to speaking at Stanford alumni events around the country—as far west as Honolulu and east as Connecticut—Milani has led educational journeys around the world as part of the Alumni Association’s Travel/Study program. Recent trips include a twenty-day trip through five Central Asian countries following a portion of the Silk Road; a cruise around the Persian Gulf from the United Arab Emirates to Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman; and a nearly month-long westward journey from Stanford to Paris by way of countries including Japan, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Katmandu, India, and Morocco.

“Abbas embodies what SAA looks for in a faculty speaker,” notes the Alumni Association in its announcement of the award. “He is generous with his time, responsive to alumni requests, happy to travel far and wide, and graciously works with staff to help bring the great work happening at Stanford out to our alumni.”

Milani’s work with alumni draws on the same experiences and scholarship that he applies in his research at Hoover. Born in Iran, he earned his bachelors’ in political science and economics from UC Berkeley and his PhD in political science from the University of Hawaii.

In the 1970s Milani returned to Iran to continue his career in academia, serving as an assistant professor at the National University of Iran and then Tehran University. During those years he faced political persecution from both the pre- and postrevolutionary governments; in 1986 he returned permanently to the United States. Yet even in 2009 his work at Hoover and Stanford landed him among those accused by the Iranian regime of providing intellectual support to the “Green Movement” protests surrounding the reelection of then president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

After emigrating from Iran Milani chaired the political science department at Notre Dame de Namur University for fourteen years. He then joined Hoover in 2001 as a research fellow and codirector of the institution’s Iran Democracy Project and Stanford as a faculty member and then director of the university’s Iranian studies program. Milani is also a contributor to Hoover’s Herbert and Jane Dwight Working Group on Islamism and the International Order.

His most recent work at Hoover includes the October 2017 article “Ayatollah Online,” which appeared in the fall 2017 edition of the Hoover Digest, as well as “A Trench War in the Digital Age: The Case of Iran,” which ran in a summer 2017 edition of The Caravan. In addition to countless other scholarly and popular articles, Milani is the author of numerous books including the The Myth of the Great Satan: A New Look at America’s Relations with Iran, published by the Hoover Institution Press.

An extensive archive of Milani’s research and analysis is available via

The full statement from the Stanford Alumni Association recognizing Milani as the winner of the 2017 Richard W. Lyman Award is available via the Alumni Association website.