Basheer K. Nijim

Position: 
Geography Faculty

February 18, 1991
To: Faculty of College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and the University Community
From: Jonathan J. Lu, Professor and Head

In sorrow, I and the faculty of the Department of Geography regret to inform you of the passing on Monday, February 11, 1991, of our friend and colleague, Dr. Basheer K. Nijim, at Sartori Hospital in Cedar Falls, from cancer. A memorial service will be held at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, February 23, in the UNI Commons. You may wish to send your sympathy or bereavement to the family at 2722 Walnut Street, Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Basheer was the first head of the Department of Geography, serving from 1969 to 1987. He joined the University of Northern Iowa in 1962 as an Assistant Professor and was promoted to the rank of Professor in 1972. During his tenure at UNI, he also served as a Visiting Professor in Lebanon in 1966-67 and in the People's Republic of China, fall 1985.

Basheer had impacted UNI and the community in various ways. Several unsolicited letters from former students attest to this fact. In a UNI survey, a student listed Basheer as one who "has contributed the most to your personal development." Personally, I benefited a lot from his counsel as head of the department.

Basheer's academic interests were in political geography, population, and the Middle East. He published over forty professional papers, essays, and abstracts; more than thirty book reviews. Two of his articles appeared in the Encyclopaedia Britannica. He co-authored and edited four books, including American Church Politics and the Middle East, and The Arab World: A Handbook. From 1972-79, he was editor of Geographical Perspectives, a refereed journal published-by the UNI geography department. He was editor, from 1983 to 1989, of "Pacesetter Books," a series of upper level undergraduate books published by the National Council for Geographic Education (NCGE) on whose Board he also served. He was an NCGE Merit Award Teacher in 1975, and a recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award of NCGE in 1987.

Basheer was elected to the board of the Middle East Outreach Council in 1988, and was a board member and vice president of the Association of Arab-American University Graduates, Inc., in 1988 and 1989. He was a member of numerous other professional organizations. In 1990, Basheer helped to organize the Association for Palestine Geography and, as a founding member, he was elected its first president.

Basheer was born September 13, 1936, in Tulkarm, Palestine, a son of Khalil and Bassimah Nijim. With this background, he had a greater insight into the current crisis in that part of the world and had done so much toward our understanding and appreciation of the Palestinian situation.

Basheer came to this country as a young man to attend Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois, and earned the B. A. degree in 1957. He did further graduate work at Johns Hopkins and Harvard Universities before he entered Indiana University to earn his master's degree in 1959 and the Ph. D. degree in 1969.

While teaching at UNI, he married an English professor, Germana Portesan, on August 27, 1966. Other members of his loving family include two sons, Faris, a senior at the University of Notre Dame, and Sharif, a senior at Northern University High School; a twin brother, Badie of Dhahran, Saudi Arabia; and a sister, Bushra Kardosh of Cedar Falls. He was preceded in death by his parents, two brothers, Bassim and Ibrahim, and a younger sister, Ghada.

A gentle man, a scholar, a teacher, and a citizen who had concerns for the physical well-being of the people, Basheer willed his body to the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, for medical research.

Basheer will be remembered most by his friends and colleagues for his kindness, his charm, and his wit. Memorials may be made to the Basheer Nijim International Scholarship, care of the University of Northern Iowa Foundation, Cedar Falls, Iowa 50614-0155.


LONG-TIME PROFESSOR AND FORMER HEAD OF GEOGRAPHY AT UNIVERSITY OF NORTHERN IOWA DIES

2/14/91--Dr. Basheer K. Nijim, 54, professor and former head of the geography department at the University of Northern Iowa, died of cancer Monday (Feb. 11) at Sartori Hospital in Cedar Falls.

A memorial service will be held at 1:30 p.m. (Saturday) Feb. 23, in the UNI Commons Ballroom.

Nijim, who joined the UNI faculty in 1962, was bead of the Department of Geography from 1969-1987. During his tenure at UNI, he served as a visiting professor of geography at the American University of Beirut, in Beirut, Lebanon, 1966-67; and, in the People's Republic of China, during September and October, 1985, at Shaanxi Teachers University, Hebei Teachers University, and the West Asian-African Institute.

His academic and research interests were in political geography, population geography, and the Middle East. He had co-authored and edited four books, including "The Arab World: A Handbook" and "American Church Politics and the Middle East." He also wrote over forty essays, abstracts and articles, and some thirty book reviews. Two of his articles on the Middle East can be found in the "Encyclopaedia Britannica."

From 1972-79, he was editor of "Geographical Perspectives," an academic journal published by the UNI geography department. He was editor of "Pacesetter Books", a series of upper level undergraduate books published by the National Council for Geographic Education, from 1983-1989.

Nijim was a founding member, in 1990, of the Association of Palestine Geography, and was elected the group's president at a meeting in Cyprus in October. He was the recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award of the National Council for Geographic Education in 1987, and was twice nominated for the UNI Distinguished Scholar Award.

He was elected to the board of the Middle East Outreach Council in 1988, and was a board member and vice president of the Association of Arab-American University Graduates, Inc., in 1988 and 1989. A Rotarian for many years, Nijim was on leave from the Rotary Club of Cedar Falls. He was a member of numerous other professional organizations.

Nijim received his B.A. degree in 1957, from Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois. He took graduate course work at Johns Hopkins University and Harvard, before completing his M.A., in 1959, and Ph.D., in 1969, both at Indiana University, Bloomington.

Nijim was born September 13, 1936, in Tulkarm, Palestine, a son of Khalil and Bassimah Nijim, and baptized in the Greek Orthodox Church. He married Germana Portesan August 27, 1966. He is survived by his wife; two sons, Faris, a senior at the University of Notre Dame, and Sharif, a senior at Northern University High School; a twin brother, Badie of Dhahran, Saudi Arabia; and a sister, Bushra Kardosh of Cedar Falls. He was preceded in death by his parents; two brothers, Bassin and Ibrahim; and a sister, Ghada.

Memorials way be made to the Basheer Nijim International Scholarship in care of the UNI Foundation.

Nijim willed his body to the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, for medical research.

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