Georgetown University received $1 million yesterday from the government of Kuwait to establish an endowed professorship in its Center for Contemporary Arab Studies.
University officials said it was the largest single gift ever given to Georgetown by a foreign government.
Since the Arab Studies Center was founded in 1975, it has received almost $2.4 million from seven other Arab countries, including $750,000 from Libya -- a gift that stirred sharp controversy in 1977.
At a ceremony yesterday at the Kluwait Embassy, Georgetown University President Timothy S. Healy called the new gift a "generous act of philanthropy [that] will significantly strengthen our teaching in the field of Arab studies and contribute to the expansion of intercultural education at the university."
A university statement said the professorship would be named after Sheikh Sabah al-Salim al-Sabah, ruler of the oil-rich Persian Gulf state from 1965 to 1977.
The statement said the professorship would deal with contemporary Arab affairs and public policy. University officials stressed that there were no conditions attached to the gift and that Kuwait would not have a voice in selecting the person who would fill the chair.
Last night Ira Silverman, director of special programs for the American Jewish Committee, which has critcized Georgetown in the past for accepting Arab gifts, said the Arab studies center has a "clearly marked pro-Arab, anti-Israel bias in its selection of curriculm material, its faculty appointments, and speakers."
Silverman said in accepting so much money from "political sponsors of one point of view [Georgetown] may be selling something very precious to Americans -- the integrity of its universities."
Georgetown officials strongly have rejected criticism of the Arab gifts, pointing out that besides the pro-Arab scholars in the Arab Studies Center, it has a number of pro-Israel scholars elsewhere on its faculty, particularly in its Center for Strategic and International Studies.
In a statement last spring, the university declared that in accepting donations, it would "protect its integrity, its independence, and the academic and civic freedom of its people." It said Georgetown would refuse any gift which "bears with it any invidious discrimination based on race, religion or sex."