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Press Releases

Monday, May 2, 2005

SU Inaugurates Freshman Reader Program With Dumas Book

SALISBURY, MD---When Firoozeh Dumas moved with her family from Iran to the United States in 1971 at age 7, it seemed less a whole new country and more a whole new planet. Dumas’ family embraced American culture, often with unintentionally humorous consequences. They made their new home in Newport Beach, CA, “a place where one's tan is a legitimate topic of conversation,” Dumas wrote. The country was friendly enough until the Iranian hostage crisis found the family vilified even by those who had known them since their arrival. Freshmen entering Salisbury University in the fall will be familiar with Dumas’ life after reading her book, Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America, the first book assigned as part of SU’s Freshman Reader Program. “Many colleges and universities have reading programs for new students,” said SU President Janet Dudley-Eshbach. “I am proud that SU will now offer this program for our freshmen. For many, this book will be their first academic connection to SU.” The program grew from a suggestion during January’s Faculty Development Workshop. A call for faculty to suggest books for the program brought many ideas, including five other finalists: Island Out of Time by Tom Horton, Ishmael by Daniel Quinn, Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich, The Color of Water by James McBride and The Pact by Sampson Davis, George Jenkins, Rameck Hunt and Liza Frazier Page. According to Lawanda Dockins-Gordy, new student experience director, the faculty committee in charge of the reader program chose Dumas’ book in part because it tied into the national Year of Languages, the theme of this fall’s cultural events series at SU. The book raises many important issues including the adjustment to new environments, keeping family bonds, maintaining self identity, living in a diverse community, being sensitive to the needs of others and more that can be discussed around first-year student transition concerns.  It also is a book the committee though few students would have read in high school. “We wanted to challenge students to read something new and connect with the story,” she said. In addition to establishing book discussion groups, SU is bringing Dumas to campus as speaker for its Fall Convocation on Friday, August 26. Members of the Freshman Reader Program Committee are: Susan Brazer, Dr. Susan Cabral, Kevin Carreathers, Dr. Dustin Chambers, Dr. Diane Davis, Dr. Joel Kincaid, Dr. T. Ross Leasure, Dr. Melanie Perreault, Dr. Andrew Pica, Vaughn White and Dockins-Gordy. For more information call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU Web site at

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