In Winter 1363, following the foundation of several branches of Islamic Azad University in other cities, a number of cultural and commercial officials began to think about founding one branch of the university in Hamedan. Hojjatol-Islam Akbariyan took the responsibility for this task and appointed a meeting in the congregation mosque of the city among hawza scholars, cultural and academic figures, charitable groups, and businessmen. He asked me to explain the aim of the meeting for the audience. During my introductory remarks, one of the clerics stated: “If this is an ISLAMIC university, then it will oppose hawza and we shouldn’t need it; otherwise, if it’s not ISLAMIC, then we won’t need it at all”. As a result of this comment, the meeting was disrupted and the audience left the mosque. At that time, I was the president of the education office of Hamedan. Therefore, with the help of some friends including the governor of Hamedan, I distributed donation bills among the colleagues in education office to collect a necessary sum of money for beginning the work. The donations, which made 36,000 tomans, were deposited in a specific account in Mahdiyeh Bank.
As Mr. Saleh, then governor general of the province, was interested in founding this university in Hamedan, he urged his political deputy, Mr. Tahaee, to pave the way for its foundation. In so doing, in the final days of his job as governor general (Winter 1365), he had introduced me, Ali-Akbar Famil Rohani, to the central office of Islamic Azad University, but I was not aware of this decision!
In the middle of Ordibehesht 1366, one day when I was teaching in class in Shahid Bahonar Teacher Education Center, I was told that I had been called by Mr. Tahaee to attend the office of governor general. After the class, I visited there and he provided some introductory explanations about the issue. “What are the necessary qualifications for me?” I asked. He did not know; so, he telephoned Dr. Jasbi and let me talk directly with him. (After all, it was so easy at that time to talk directly with Dr. Jasbi!) After some greetings, I introduced myself and asked about the necessary conditions for founding a university.
Mr Jasbi said: “You must provide a request letter from Imam Jomeh, provincial officials, as well as the prominent figures of the city, specify a proper place for the university, and possess 20,000,000 RLS in cash to afford the necessary equipment. You can come to me when you have prepared these”. The first step was to obtain the consent of Imam Jomeh, late Ayatollah Mousavi Hamedani. Fortunately, he warmly accepted the proposal and called for forming a council consisting of Seyyed Mohammad Hosseini, Hamid Tahaee, Mr. Danesh-monfared (then governor general), Mr. Hashemi-fara (then governor), me, and several others and holding a meeting in his office. Affording the 20,000,000 RLS in cash was too difficult for us and the charitable donations were far from adequate. We struggled for a couple of weeks and, in the end, we could persuade the political deputy of Social Security Organization (Mr. Yalpaniyan) to lend us the money providing that we would return the loan after the registration of the first group of students. The problem of providing a place, which was the last problem, was solved as the governor general, Mr. Danesh-monfared, promised to give us a temporary place until we could find a permanent place.
In the meanwhile, I was dealing with advertising and attracting public attentions. So I ordered a sign to be made for the entrance of the university while continuing the official and legal procedures. However, finding a permanent place would seem to be an insoluble problem. One day the sign-maker came and told me that the ordered sign was ready. I took the sign from his shop and, as I had no fixed place, put it in the office of the governor general. Soon the governor general came out of his room and saw the sign lying there. After a couple of minutes, he said: “I have ordered that one of the buildings of Saderat Bank be at your disposal. For the time being, set it as your temporary place; Let’s wait and see what will happen “.
The bank was small, with an area of only 24 square meters. It was furnished with a counter and two metal desks which were sufficient for my short-term needs. Day in day out I was coming and going between the office of the governor general and the ‘single-room university’. It was at this time that I was informed that Mr. Yalpaniyan would provide us with the 2,000,000 RLS as a long-term and interest-free loan. The very day I received the check, I telephoned Dr. Jasbi and made and appointment for Mordad 25. Along with Dr. Zare’ and Dr. Abbaspour, I visited Dr. Jasbi and presented the written request of Hamedan’s officials as well as the check. Finally, on the same day and at about 1 pm, the command of Hamedan branch of Azad University was issued by my name and we returned to Hamedan.
After receiving the permission, I appointed Mr. Mo’taghed the deputy director and, now, there was a university with just two employees and a single-room office! The third employee to join us was young man called Eghbal Almasi who took the responsibility for advertising and publicity.
The main requirement put forward by Dr. Jasbi for running the university was to attract public donations. However, as we were in the eight-year war period, people were not in a good financial status and there were few charitable individuals who could give us remarkable donations. In Summer 1366, the Party of Islamic Republic of Iran auctioned its properties in Hamedan and, with the help of Mr. Mohammad Hosseini, we could buy a car with a fair price. Chairs as well as all other office supplies were gradually bought. I remember I used the ground floor of my own house as the warehouse of the university. One day I visited Dr. Akrami, then the Minister of Education, to receive some donation He was not willing to do so, but I persisted and, finally, borrowed a desktop typewriter for several years.
The registration manual of university entrance exam was printed and published while the name of Hamedan branch, along with several subjects of study, had been printed in it. But we were still residing in that single room. I endeavored very much to persuade the chancellor of Bu-Ali Sina University to hold the exam there. Finally I could succeed. The day of the exam was very hard. It was cold and a strong wind was blowing. The applicants took the exam under very bad circumstances.
When the exam was finished, I was mostly preoccupied with providing a proper place for classes. One day when I was walking to the office of the governor general, I noticed an old bricked building that had been occupied for a time by Keshavarzi Bank and was now empty. I informed the governor general about the building. He did his best and, in spite of the initial disagreements of the bank director, he obtained the permission for using the building. I was extremely happy when, for the first time, I entered the building. The first thing I did was installing the sign over the entrance door. Then we decided to have the building repaired and painted, which took us about a month.
During the repair, I encountered an active young man whom I later appointed as secretary, i.e. late Mr. Eliasi. Now Mr. Almasi was librarian and also dealt with the affairs of public relations; Mr. Beh-khosh was the janitor and took care of the cleaning job; late Mr. Serajian was our driver and also took responsibility for part of the financial affairs; and Mr. Mo’taghed was the deputy director.
Finally, the university was inaugurated in the presence of Ayatollah Mousavi Hamedani, academia, the governor general, the governor, and other prominent figures of the city. In the inauguration ceremony, the representative of Mr. Alaghebandiyan donated us a sum of 500,000 tomans. So, the Hamedan branch of Islamic Azad University was inaugurated! About one month later, we started our work with more than 600 students and 13 subjects of study in Associate and Bachelor levels.