September 2020

Khyentse Foundation, together with the German Tara Foundation, has secured a tenured professorship in Tibetan and Buddhist Studies at Ludwig Maximilian University (LMU) of Munich. This is the third gift of this kind that KF has sponsored and the first in Europe. The first and second chairs are at University of California at Berkeley and the University of Michigan, both in the United States.

LMU approached KF when world-renowned Tibetologist Professor Franz-Karl Ehrhard, holding the chair of Tibetan and Buddhist Studies at LMU, retired in March 2019, after serving in this position for 16 years. Tara Foundation’s long-time support had helped to establish this position, but a partner was needed to make it a tenured post. LMU faced the possibly of losing the professorship as well as the threat of closing a whole section of its Buddhist Studies doctoral program. The leadership of LMU, recognizing the outstanding achievements of Professor Ehrhard in the field of Tibetan Buddhist Studies, wanted to strongly support the position and the programs attached to it, and they were prepared to contribute substantially from their limited discretionary funds.

Understanding how critical the situation was, and seeing the determination of the university leadership, the KF board agreed to step in to supplement funding from Tara Foundation and the university to make a tenured position possible. 

The main building of LMU, with some of the churches of the old town in the background

Founded in 1472, the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich is among the oldest universities in Europe. A comprehensive research and teaching-oriented university, LMU offers more than 200 subjects, covering the full range of the arts and humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences. 

LMU’s Chair of Indology dates back to 1868, with its focus on Buddhist Studies starting after the Second World War. During Professor Ehrhards tenure, LMU became a hub for Tibetan Buddhist Studies in Europe and attracted scholars from all over Europe, Asia, and the United States. It invigorated studies in the field globally and fostered close collaboration with other universities that were invested in the field of Tibetan Buddhism, including Oxford University, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Tokyo , Peking University, and Fudan University.  

“There can be no doubt that this new appointment will continue this national and international cooperation and further strengthen the status of Munich’s status as one of the foremost centers for the study of Tibet and Buddhism,” said Professor Hans van Ess, professor of Chinese Studies and vice president of LMU, who is himself a member of the Buddhist Studies program. 

KF is happy to help in securing one of just a handful of Tibetan Buddhism professorships in Europe. This is truly a joint effort of the university and the two foundations. KF believes that this position, together with its complete undergraduate, masters, and doctoral programs, will ensure and strengthen the tradition and future of Buddhist Studies at LMU and in Europe.

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