Over the years, Ghadbian's knowledge of the Arab world has proved an asset to the university. His classes filled up as he developed a reputation as a charismatic teacher who knows Middle East politics inside and out.
"He was one of the main reasons why I decided to apply for my graduate degree at the University of Arkansas, just knowing that I could work with him," said Laila Taraghi, a former student who now lives in Olympia, Wash.
Ghadbian has long been a voice in the media, calling for democracy and weighing in on the political scene in the Middle East, so he doesn't see a conflict between his roles as activist and academic. Neither do most university officials, though Gordon said he thinks Ghadbian needs to be more careful in his current position.
"He's a university professor, but he's not acting in a university capacity," Gordon said.
Ghadbian seems reluctant to predict what will happen in Syria now, but he emphasizes the importance of establishing an interim government.
"The whole idea of forming the interim government is to be able to control the FSA, the Free Syrian Army, under one command and structure," Ghadbian said. "By so doing, we believe we could isolate and marginalize the extremist forces, which many of the Friends of Syria are concerned about and we are concerned about."