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Celebrating the Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies

Posted on October 30, 2014 7:25 am by Lauren Kirkpatrick

Khayrallah Marshall Khater

Moise Khayrallah enjoys a happy moment with NC Secretary of State Elaine Marshall following the announcement. Center Director Akram Khater is in the foreground at right.

NC State recently celebrated an exceptionally generous $8.1 million gift to endow the Moise A. Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Representing the largest single gift in the history of the college, the Khayrallahs are creating the first privately endowed center at NC State, and the world’s first center on Lebanese culture and history outside of Lebanon.

Enjoy this photo gallery from the announcement at the Park Alumni Center.

Read more about the gift, the center and the donors who made it possible.


Marrying Humanities with Science and Technology

Posted on October 29, 2014 9:50 am by Lauren Kirkpatrick

Bob Geolas spoke to the Wolfpack crowd at the Evening of Stars gala.

Bob Geolas spoke to the Wolfpack crowd at the Evening of Stars gala.

Bob Geolas was awarded the Humanities and Social Sciences Outstanding Alumnus award at NC State's 2014 Evening of Stars gala.

Geolas embodies the value that a humanities degree brings to the technology industry. He also demonstrates the myriad opportunities available to those who are well educated in the humanities and social sciences. Today the Humanities and Social Sciences alumnus (Multidisciplinary Studies ’87) is president and CEO of the Research Triangle Foundation. How he got there is a story of hard work, competence, serendipity and passion.

Geolas didn’t start out at NC State. After graduating from Smithfield-Selma Senior High in 1983, he entered Appalachian State University. He wanted to be an art teacher. During his second year, a faculty member encouraged him to apply to NC State’s College of Design. Geolas was accepted and soon met the dean, Claude McKinney.

“He saw that I had a tremendous interest in speech and communications and politics,” says Geolas. “He recommended that I reach out to the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and seek a multidisciplinary degree.”

In addition to McKinney, Geolas had allies in political science professor Abe Holtzman and speech communication professor Ray Camp.

“Abe Holtzman, Ray Camp and Claude McKinney really worked with me to craft what became the multidisciplinary degree that I got approved by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and allowed me to graduate on time,” says Geolas. “I wanted to get out so I could get involved in a political campaign.”

After graduation, Geolas began working on Dick Gephardt’s 1988 presidential bid, covering the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. He worked with political consultants Paul Begala and Donna Brazile, rallying university students around Gephardt.

When Gephardt didn’t win the bid, Geolas landed in Washington, D.C., where he worked for the Children’s Defense Fund with Marian Wright Edelman. He also volunteered at the Democratic Leadership Council, where he met Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Back in North Carolina a few years later, his NC State mentor Abe Holtzman introduced Geolas to state Rep. Joe Mavretic, then NC speaker of the house. Geolas served as Mavretic’s legislative liaison and went on to work on Gov. Jim Hunt’s third campaign. He also served as Bill Clinton’s state director for the 1992 presidential campaign. When Hunt won a third term, Geolas joined the team.

“Along the way, I developed a tremendous passion for North Carolina and public service,” he says. “Ultimately, that passion grew into a real commitment to economic development.”

Geolas was always asking himself how politics and policy could translate into something that was truly meaningful in people’s lives. “Gov. Hunt really saw that passion in me,” says Geolas. “In 1994, he suggested that I consider going over and working with Claude McKinney on the development of Centennial Campus.”

Geolas took Hunt’s advice in 1995, working under McKinney and then taking his place as top manager when McKinney retired. In 2004, Clemson University hired Geolas as executive director for its International Center for Automotive Research, a project similar in scope to Centennial Campus.

The state of North Carolina got Geolas back in 2011 when the Research Triangle Foundation tapped him to focus on initiatives to ensure RTP remains at the forefront of technology and applied science.

“RTP is the largest research park in all of North America,” he says. “We’re about half the size of the island of Manhattan, and we have an amazing global brand. But it’s time to rethink the way the park works, the way it looks.

“We talk about bringing things into the park that don’t exist today. Nobody can live here today. No coffee shops, no sandwich shops, no retail. There’s very little for the broad general public to do in the park. It needs to be an environment where we can allow the most innovative and creative thinkers to come and get started with the things that will change our lives.”

Brooks Raiford met Geolas at NC State when they were both students. Raiford, president and CEO of the North Carolina Technology Association, chairs the CHASS Advisory Board. “Dean Braden and I knew Bob would be inundated with requests,” he says. “We approached him soon after he came back to North Carolina to ask him to join our board. We were so pleased he was willing to serve.”

“Bob has remarkable interpersonal skills and a nimble intellect that allow him to understand technical issues, but also to think about things in cultural, human and interpersonal contexts,” says Braden. “He moves between those frames of reference with great fluidity.”

“Bob has a strong ability to distill a lot of information and messages into clear, concise thoughts,” Raiford adds, “and that’s often the first critical step in persuading others.”

Now that he’s back home, Geolas is determined to bring science, technology and the humanities together to increase economic opportunities for North Carolina. “More and more companies today are saying we don’t just need smart engineers, we need engineers who have context,” Geolas says. “What do they know about the history of the world? How do they communicate? How are they staying engaged?

“I think NC State is poised to merge the humanities with technology to prepare the innovators of the future.”

By Christa Gala.

An earlier version of this article appeared in the Humanities and Social Sciences magazine.


October Student of the Month

Posted on October 20, 2014 7:22 am by dlleeder

student Kim VuMeet Kim Thanh Vu, CHASS Student of the Month

Hometown: Charlotte, NC

Class:  Senior

Major: Social Work

Minor: Biological Sciences

Sample Courses:

  • Social Work and Aging
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Introduction to Forensic Anthropology


  • Founder and President, NC State Crafts for a Cause
  • Secretary, National Alliance on Mental Illness at NC State
  • Member, Baccalaureate Student Social Work Association
  • Member, Korean Conversation Club
  • Member, Pre-Health Club
  • Volunteer, NC State International Cultural Leadership Project
  • Resident Mentor for sophomores and transfer students, 2013-14
  • Alternative Spring Break, El Remate, Guatemala, Spring 2014
  • Volunteer, Outpatient Rehabilitation at Rex Hospital
  • Volunteer Program Intern, Alexander Family YMCA (Raleigh, NC), Spring 2013

Honors:   National Residence Hall Honorary, 2013-14

Postgraduate Plans:   Occupational Therapy

Why did you select CHASS?

I knew I wanted to change the world, but I was not sure how to go about it.  CHASS seemed like a good fit.  As I look back, I see I was correct. Every CHASS professor has taught me to look at the bigger picture and reflect on how I can serve people on a global and local level. There are also nonstop opportunities publicized here.  I always feel like there is something to be a part of.

What were some of your favorite CHASS courses?

Multicultural Social Work gave me a larger view of the world, and I saw how I and others interrelate within that world.  Great Works of Western Literature was very interesting, in that it taught life lessons by showing how fictional characters deal with their circumstances.  In addition to wonderful courses, I have had terrific advisors.  Linda Williams and Kathy Osborne in the Social Work Department were extremely welcoming, and I felt I could talk with them about anything. I had switched to Business Administration my sophomore year, but these advisors helped me to see that Social Work is, in fact, what I am really passionate about, and I returned to the major.

What has been your greatest challenge at NC State?

The biggest challenge has been figuring out exactly what I want to do. I knew what I didn’t like, but didn’t know how to translate what I did like into a career and use it to set goals.

What advice would you give incoming students?

Try everything without hesitation!

Tony Hale's Chicken Tale

Posted on October 16, 2014 7:06 am by Lauren Kirkpatrick

Tony Hale (right) with Archibald. Photo courtesy of Boxing Clever Publishing.

Tony Hale (right) with Archibald. Photo courtesy of Boxing Clever Publishing.

You may know Emmy-award winning actor Tony Hale as Buster Bluth on Arrested Development, or as Gary Walsh, the Veep's personal aide. Less well known but equally important title roles include Children's Book Author, and Brother. Hale is the brother of Kim Andreaus, the field placement supervisor for the NC State Department of Social Work's MSW program.

It is in the dual roles as author and brother that Tony Hale will visit NC State on Saturday, November 8.  During an event at 7:00 pm in the Hunt Library auditorium, Hale will read from his new children’s book, Archibald’s Next Big Thing, and draw parallels between the book, his acting career, and the field of social work.

"I invited Tony to come because of the connections we saw between his work and mine," Andreaus says. "As an actor, my brother is always looking for the next big thing. Now he's written a book -- a pretty funny book about a partially bald chicken -- where he’s helping children think about their lives as great adventures.

"That’s what we do as social workers, too. We teach our students -- and they in turn teach their clients -- about self worth, self determination, and self care. We train students to help people be present and mindful in what they do, and to be true to themselves. These concepts are huge components of our training and practice.”

Andreaus says her brother was more than willing to come share his perspectives with aspiring social workers, other NC State students, and others in the community. "My brother is not exactly shy," she laughs. "Give him a stage and a microphone, and he's a happy guy." Hale is waiving any speaker fees and hopes his visit will garner support for the Department of Social Work.

Hale drew from his own experiences to write the children’s book. “The thoughts of an actor aren’t very different from Archibald’s,” he says. “I always find myself looking ahead to the next big role, the next big opportunity, obsessed with the question, ‘What’s next?’ Embracing and enjoying the present is a message I want both my daughter and myself to remember every single day.”

The event is co-sponsored by NC State’s Department of Social Work and Quail Ridge Books & Music.

Tony Hale will speak in the Hunt Library auditorium, Centennial Campus, NC State University, on Saturday, November 8, 7:00-8:30 pm; a VIP reception runs from 6:00 – 7:00 pm.

Order tickets  to attend the event and the reception. Cost: $5.00 students; $10.00 general public; $30.00 reception. First 100 tickets free to NC State students. Proceeds from all ticket sales will benefit the NC State Social Work Enhancement Fund, held by the NC State Foundation, Inc.

Books are available for pre-sale on the ticketing website and will be available for sale at the event


$8.1M Gift Endows Moise A. Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies

Posted on October 14, 2014 4:00 pm by Lauren Kirkpatrick

Vera and Moise Khayrallah, flanked by Dean Jeff Braden and Professor Akram Khater.

Vera and Moise Khayrallah, flanked by Dean Jeff Braden and Professor Akram Khater.

An $8.1 million gift has been made to endow the Moise A. Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at NC State University.

NC State Chancellor Randy Woodson announced the gift from Dr. Moise and Vera Khayrallah today at an event at NC State’s Park Alumni Center, emphasizing its significance to the university, to the state of North Carolina and beyond. “This is the largest single gift in the history of the college, the first privately endowed center at NC State, and the world’s first center on Lebanese culture and history outside of Lebanon,” the chancellor said.

As it provides opportunities for faculty and students to explore questions about the Lebanese Diaspora and other migrations across the world, the center will advance knowledge about the global movements of peoples, ideas, commodities and cultures. It will also enable the university to engage world-leading faculty in conducting important research and provide NC State students with opportunities for experiential education.

“As a ‘Think and Do’ kind of place, at NC State history is both about scholarship and about the practice of history and engagement with the real world,” he said. “NC State’s public history program enables us to make history relevant. It’s also how we build bridges to different communities, make history come alive, and promote civic understanding.”

The center is funded by Dr. Moise A. Khayrallah and his wife, Vera Khayrallah. The couple emigrated from Lebanon to North Carolina in 1983 to attend graduate school. Moise Khayrallah is a biotechnology entrepreneur who has started three drug-development companies; Vera is a licensed social worker and Human Services Senior Practitioner with Wake County Human Services.

“We are deeply grateful to Moise and Vera Khayrallah for their vision and their philanthropy,” said Dr. Jeffery P. Braden, dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. “This endowed center will allow us to create substantial economic, societal and intellectual prosperity in a lasting way for our scholars, our students and our policy makers.”

The Khayrallahs’ gift will fund the center as well as the Moise A. Khayrallah Distinguished Professorship in Lebanese Diaspora Studies. It will help build an online digital research archive chronicling the Lebanese diaspora in America; host conferences and workshops on the Lebanese diaspora which bring together top scholars in the field; provide NC State students with engagement and research opportunities; publish an online journal, with both scholarly articles and artistic expressions, dedicated to the Lebanese diaspora; and produce public history projects from documentaries to museum exhibits that disseminate this knowledge to the general public and engage them in the conversation about migration and its impact on our societies and world.

NC State students will benefit tremendously from the gift. “We offer a master’s degree in public history and one of only three doctoral degrees in public history nationwide,” Braden said. “Our public history students will gain great opportunities to become the next generation of scholars advancing Lebanese and Middle East diaspora studies.”

Dr. Akram Khater, an NC State professor of history, directs the Khayrallah Program for Lebanese-American Studies, a program that has researched, documented and exhibited the story of the Lebanese community in North Carolina – a history that goes back more than 130 years.

“Our past research has served as a pilot program for the mission and work of the new center,” Khater said. “Over the past four years we collected oral histories of Lebanese-Americans in North Carolina that we subsequently used to produce a television documentary and a museum exhibit. Funding from Moise and Vera Khayrallah will allow us to expand on this foundation and provide research and insight into the movement of people from Lebanon to the United States, a migration that is uniquely Lebanese yet echoes across other immigrant communities.”

Khater described examples of the interdisciplinary work the center will conduct:

  • As we seek to understand the impact of migration on health, we will bring together archival historical research, computer science, demography, medicine and sociology.
  • As we search for patterns in the financial success of Lebanese-Americans, we will work with business models as well oral history.
  • To tell the story of how a group of people left a small region in the Middle East to become a ubiquitous presence in practically every corner of the world, we will work with videographers, graphic designers, film studies majors, and historians.

“This center embodies how our different disciplines enrich not only members of the Lebanese-American community, but in telling the tale of a people that is at once uniquely Lebanese and quintessentially American, it enriches all of us,” said Braden. “Through that narrative, we gain a deeper appreciation of ourselves, our neighbors, and how we are made better together.”