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GCU congratulates alumnus Hassan Rouhani on his election as the next President of Iran

19 June 2013

Dr Hassan Rouhani

Dr Hassan Rouhani

Glasgow Caledonian University has welcomed the election of one of its alumni, Dr Hassan Rouhani, as the next President of Iran.

The Principal and Vice-Chancellor of GCU, Professor Pamela Gillies, CBE, said: “I would like to congratulate our alumnus, Hassan Rouhani, on being elected President of Iran, a truly significant achievement. 

“I hope his period as a scholar at Glasgow Caledonian University will prove beneficial as he assumes office, and I wish him every success as he works towards a positive future for Iran and its people.”

Dr Rouhani, who was a clear winner of the Iranian Presidential election capturing more than 50% of the vote, studied at GCU in the 1990s under his family name of Hassan Feridon. He was awarded an MPhil in 1995. His thesis was entitled The Islamic Legislative Power with reference to the Iranian experience. In 1999, Dr Rouhani gained a PhD with his thesis, The Flexibility of Shariah (Islamic Law), with reference to the Iranian experience.

Dr Rouhani’s election campaign videos featured pictures of Glasgow Caledonian University and the former GCU student spoke warmly of his time in the city. On Tuesday, June 18, the Glasgow-based Herald newspaper reported on Dr Rouhani’s first news conference in Tehran, quoting him as saying he would “follow the path of moderation and justice, not extremism”.

“We have to enhance mutual trust between Iran and other countries,” said Dr Rouhani. “We have to build trust.”

Dr Rouhani will succeed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as President of Iran when he demits office in August.

The Glasgow Caledonian University expert in International and Islamic law, who supervised the research studies of the Iranian President-elect, has spoken of Dr Hassan Rouhani’s time in Glasgow as a PhD student.

Dr Mahdi Zahraa, a Reader in Law in the Glasgow School for Business and Society, recalled Hassan Feridon, as he was then known, as “a quiet-spoken, very gentle man”.

“I recognised him immediately on television from his smile,” said Dr Zahraa.

Dr Zahraa supervised Dr Rouhani’s thesis, The Flexibility of Shariah (Islamic Law), with reference to the Iranian experience, and remembers enjoying “intelligent and challenging” discussions with Dr Rouhani during one-to-one meetings at the GCU campus.

They first met at the University in 1994 as Dr Rouhani neared the completion of his MPhil.

Dr Zahraa said: “I took over from my predecessor in the September of that year. Hassan and I had regular meetings as he neared the end of his Masters degree and I found him to be very knowledgeable. We discussed the potential for a PhD and I encouraged him to apply. He was successful and I was appointed to supervise his thesis.

“We had very different views on some matters, on others we found that we held similar opinions. From our discussions, I ascertained that he had a modern and reformist approach to Shariah law.

"His spoken English was good. Hassan knew his subject well and responded to my directions in an organised, thoughtful manner."

- Picture courtesy of Khademian Farzaneh/ABACA/Press Association Images