Pardis Mahdavi is an anthropologist and provost and executive vice president of the University of Montana. Her academic career has focused on diversity, migration, sexuality, and human rights. Before sitting on a panel for “How Can Women and Girls Win in Iran?,” the Zócalo event co-presented with Goldhirsh Foundation and with generous support from Pedram Salimpour, she chatted with us about what’s on her Spotify Wrapped, her favorite Persian dish, and her horse, Caspian.
Do you have a favorite spot in Montana?
I love riding my horse, so one of my favorite things to do is to go trail riding in a part of Missoula called Mount Jumbo and Rattlesnake Canyon. I’ve been riding for about 25 years. My horse’s name is Caspian.
You moved here from Arizona. What do you miss most about the Phoenix area?
So many things. What I miss most are my friends. I miss the vibrant energy at ASU. And I miss those glorious red rocks, especially this time of year—I feel like Phoenix this time of year is absolutely perfect.
Who is one of your top artists in your Spotify Wrapped?
It’s all over the place, but I really like Naomi Raine. And I was just listening to a song called “Six Ways to Sunday” from the album The Whippoorwill by Blackberry Smoke.
Who is somebody who inspires you?
My grandmother. She was a bold, fearless woman. She definitely always stood up for what was right and called out what was wrong. I’m right now inspired by all the schoolgirls protesting in Iran.
Do you have a message for the women and girls fighting for their rights in Iran right now?
I would just say: Know we have your backs and we are amplifying your voice to the world.
Do you have a favorite Persian dish?
I love tahdig. My favorite Persian dish is gheimeh—a stew—over a saffron and white rice.
When you were a child what did you want to do when you grew up?
It’s a tie between Christiane Amanpour—an international journalist—and Laker girl.
What is something you’re proud of?
I’m most proud of my grit and my resilience as a leader in higher ed.