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Arab-American Funnyman to Teach Law at University of Detroit-Mercy

Did you hear the one about the Arab-American comedian who taught law?

No joke.

The University of Detroit-Mercy made news recently by adding Amer Zahr to teach “Arab Americans and the Law” in spring semester. Amer is an unlikely combination of lawyer, comic, author and filmmaker. The newly minted adjunct professor has appeared on “Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher,” writes the popular Civil Arab blog and earned a law degree from UofM Law.

Perhaps most important: He’s among the best known in a crop of Arab-Americans who use laughter to break barriers and shatter misconceptions. He’s expected to bring the approach to his class, which explores Arab-American legal issues from the 19th century until now.

“We are thrilled to have Amer join our team who see the law — in addition to its practical application — as an important tool for advancing social and cultural insight and understanding,” said Pamela Wilkins, associated dean of academic affairs for the UDM Law School.

The fit may seem unorthodox, but the University of Detroit-Mercy and other Michigan independent colleges and universities sometimes do things differently. They value faculty — and students — with different perspectives chart their own path than follow the herd.

Sure, faculty at Michigan independents are passionate experts in their fields. But they sometimes zig while others zag. And they’re not afraid to ask tough questions. Here’s a clip from Zahr’s upcoming documentary, “We’re Not White,” in which he asks people to name a famous Arab.

Faculty is one of many differences at Michigan’s 15 independent colleges and universities. They’re smaller and emphasize community over crowds. Often less expensive than public institutions, the independents boast higher four-year graduation rates and smaller class sizes for a truly unique and affordable experience.

Be bold. Be different. Go independent.