Visiting assistant professor of sociology and prominent political analyst Mehrdad Mashayekhi died Wednesday, according to a department email sent to sociology majors, minors and faculty.

The university is organizing a memorial ceremony, Sociology Department Chair Tim Wickham-Crowley wrote in the message on Thursday. The date for the service has yet to be set.

Mashayekhi, who was born in Iran in 1953, had been teaching in the department of sociology and anthropology since 1989. He taught Introduction to Sociology, as well as classes that addressed the relationship among social movements, politics, culture and globalization. Mashayeki had also served on the faculty of George Mason University, The George Washington University and the University of Maryland. His research and publications focused on social movements, civil society, political culture and Islamic reform.

Masheyekhi had contributed regularly to Persian TV, Voice of America and BBC, commenting on Iranian politics and society. The professor had been struggling with pancreatic cancer for over a year, an illness reported in August by The Iranian, an online English language publication followed largely by North American Iranians.

“We can all learn a lesson or two from him — about the beauty and preciousness of life and how to persevere in the face of adversity,” the article said.

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