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In Memoriam: Jere L. Bacharach (1938-2023)

April 13, 2023

Jere Bacharach headshotWe mourn the passing of Jere Bacharach, 84, professor emeritus of History and former director of the Jackson School and longtime contributor to the field of Middle East studies. He passed away on April 9, 2023 in Seattle, Washington.

“As a scholar, as a leader, and as a lifelong student, Jere represents a Jackson School ideal,” said Danny Hoffman, Interim Director of the Jackson School. “He began with a passion for Islamic history and through it generated pathbreaking scholarship, enduring intellectual institutions, and an extraordinary legacy of mentorship.”

Jere came to the University of Washington as an Assistant Professor of History in 1967. He spent his entire career at the UW until he retired as Professor in 2004. As he went through the ranks, Jere took on a growing number of administrative responsibilities and leadership positions. Through these, he left an indelible mark on the UW, the Department of History, Middle East Studies on this campus, and the Jackson School of international Studies, where he was Director in 1995-2000, and then came back for another stint in 2001.

Prior, he served as Chair of History (1987-1992), and was the Director of the Middle East Center (1982-1995) and the founding Director of the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program in Near and Middle East Studies (1992-2000). Jere also took on key roles and responsibilities in national and international positions including his service as a member of the Board of Directors of the American Research Center in Egypt and the Presidency of the Middle East Studies Association, which has a service award named after him. While doing all this, Jere also kept up his scholarship and established himself as an expert in Medieval Middle East, especially in Islamic numismatics of the Arab World.

Along the way, he established several funds, including the Jere L. Bacharach Fund, Middle East Center, Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington. Other funds were established in his name, too.

Throughout his tenure Jere used his energy, enthusiasm, and generosity to open space for others to work and grow intellectually. There are four areas where his contributions have been especially important for the School:

  • By working closely with the Henry M. Jackson Foundation, he started the first Human Rights Initiative where activists from Russia and Eastern Europe came to the Jackson School for different lengths of time during his directorship.
  • This initiative provided the seeds for the UW Human Rights Center, which has since become a very successful hub of research and advocacy.
  • Again by cooperating with the Jackson Foundation, Jere established the Stanley D. Golub Endowed Chair in International Studies, which has been an important source of support for Directors.
  • Jere’s second stint as Director coincided with the 9/11 attacks, which changed U.S. foreign policy and politics in the Middle East forever. Under his leadership the School organized the open classroom series to discuss the causes and consequences of 9/11 that reached thousands of people. This remains as one of the most successful outreach programs organized by the Jackson School.

Finally, under his leadership, the History Department and the Jackson School took giant steps toward diversifying our faculty, especially in terms of gender. We will greatly miss him.

“We are all grateful for the profound impact he had on our School and on the University of Washington,” said Hoffman.

Reşat Kasaba, former director of the Jackson School (2010-2020) and professor, contributed to this article.


Read the Middle East Center’s Jere Bacharach Memoriam

Read the Department of History Jere Bacharach memoriam