Utah State University’s language-focused programs will have a home of their own following construction of the Mehdi Heravi Global Teaching and Learning Center on the Logan campus.
The center will be named for Iranian-born Heravi, a USU alumnus, educator, scholar, author and philanthropist. The Utah Legislature recently approved construction of the $17 million building, which will be built south of the Ray B. West Building.
The state is providing $14.5 million for the building, with an additional $2.5 million coming from private donors, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
College of Humanities and Social Sciences Dean Joseph P. Ward said state lawmakers recognize that Utah industries are increasingly global in scope.
The center “will help students gain the communication expertise and cultural confidence to be leaders in their professions and communities,” Ward said in a statement.
Some 2,200 USU students enroll in lower division world languages classes each year. Ward estimates that about two-thirds of those students are non-language majors, many of them Latter-day Saint missionaries who already have advanced language skills and cultural competencies, he said in prepared statement.
The Legislature approved the project during the 2020 session but funding was cut during special legislative sessions called to make pandemic-related adjustments to the state budget. The project’s funding was later restored.
The center is named for Heravi, who over the years has established several scholarships at USU, including several endowed scholarships within the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. According to a USU biography, Heravi is passionate about students gaining access to international opportunities.
Heravi completed high school in Logan and earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science from Utah State in the 1960s, followed by a doctorate from the American University School of International Service.
Heravi served as vice president and provost at the University of Iran. After retirement, he began working in philanthropic and humanitarian causes, supporting academic programs and charities, including an orphanage in Iran.
According to Ward, the center will enhance language education for students at USU’s more than 30 campuses statewide.
The center will feature expanded conversational, teaching and computer writing labs, as well as centralized student advising, study and tutoring. The college’s Intensive English Language Institute, a program that supports students and faculty members who seek to improve their academic skills, will be relocated to the center as well.
Currently, language classes are conducted in four buildings on the USU main campus. The university offers programs that range from Mandarin to Arabic and from Russian to Spanish.