Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Director of AUIS Research Center departs for personal, professional reasons

By Salman Ahmed Rasul

Denise Natali, Director of the AUIS Research Centers , Director of International Programs & Exchanges and an Associate History Professor at AUIS left the University on December 12, 2010, and headed to the United States to work on a big academic project.
She also said that she had to leave Iraq for some personal and professional reasons. In an exclusive interview for the AUIS Voice she said, "I am leaving for personal and professional reasons."
“My daughter and I have been here alone for five and half years," she added. "She was only five when we arrived with two suitcases on the first commercial flight from Europe to Erbil, with the larger goal of conducting research and teaching in the region. My daughter is now ten and my book, the Kurdish Quasi-State, is finished.
I think it is time for me to get my daughter into a good school and situate her near her family and her father. She has learned a lot about the life and culture of Iraq and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, including the Kurdish language.
Now I think she needs to learn about American culture, since she has spent all of her life in France and the Kurdistan region of Iraq, but never in the U.S.”
In terms of academics, she has several professional reasons to leave Kurdistan and head to the United States.
“Additionally, there are professional reasons why I have to leave,” Natali said. “I have committed 18 years of my life to researching and analyzing the Kurdish problem and I am likely to spend the next 30 years of my life continuing to do so, but I would like to focus now on larger policy issues outside the Kurdistan Region and Iraq.”
Natali said that she has been appointed by the Naval War College in Washington, DC to be in charge of documents captured in 2003 in Iraq to work, to research, and to analyze Baath Party documents which have not been seem before.
“I was offered an opportunity to direct the research on captured documents from the period of Saddam Hussein's regime, including his tape recorded speeches and Ba'athist records that have not yet been examined. I will write and expose some of the findings and encourage others to engage in similar research on these archives. I will also be expected to return to Iraq and the region. This is a remarkable opportunity that I could not refuse.”
She told us that her offices will continue, and Timothy Doyle, Director of Enrollment, will take over her Middle Eastern history class until the end of semester.
Natali also mentioned the growth of the AUIS. She is very optimistic about having a solid group of people and leaves her various positions under the direction of these people.
“AUIS is developing into a very sound and professional institution; the best in Iraq for sure,” she added.
“There is a very solid group of people here teaching and administering University life. The Research Centers and Office of International Programs will continue successfully with the assistance of Nate and Melanie; I am fortunate to have had both of them helping me. Mr. Timothy Doyle will assume my course in Middle Eastern History, and assure the same rigor as I did in the classroom. And most importantly, the University will continue to thrive under the leadership of Dr. Moulakis. AUIS is very fortunate to have him as Provost, as well as Mr. Johan Brongers as Rector.”
Natali would describe her time during working here at AUIS as full of challenges, gratifying and difficult time.
"I had a challenging, difficult, and gratifying time at AUIS,” she said. “The difficulties, however, have made me stronger, but have not dissuaded me from returning. I wish everyone the best of luck and success.”

This article first appeared on 

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