“Dr. Ian Harris was our mentor and hero. He will be deeply missed by all the people of Cambodia who came into contact with him for his scholarship work on Buddhism and his unlimited wisdom. He was so kind and generous and has touched many lives.”
— Pou Sovachana, Wat Unalum, Phnom-Penh, Cambodia
Organizer and teacher, Buddhist Education Peace Centre, and friend and colleague of Dr. Harris
The world of Buddhist academics is very small and yet crucial to the preservation and spread of the dharma. Every person who excels in this field is a precious resource to the Buddhist community. Dr. Ian Harris, Buddhist scholar, teacher, and researcher, was such a person. It was with a great sense of loss that we learned of his death on December 23, 2014, in his home in Burton-in-Lonsdale, Yorkshire, England, surrounded by his wife Gwen and their family.
Dr. Harris was Emeritus Professor of Buddhist Studies at the University of Cumbria, England. His particular interests included Buddhism in Cambodia. In 2013, he spent several months as a visiting professor at Preah Sihanouk Raja Buddhist University in Phnom Penh, funded by a grant from Khyentse Foundation. During that time, he was instrumental in completely revising the academic curriculum at both BA and MA levels; initiating the full revision of English language teaching materials so that they more adequately suit the needs of Cambodian monk students; and carefully examining the institution’s library resources with a view to future improvement.
His many friends and colleagues describe Dr. Harris as a warm, generous, and knowledgeable man with an engaging sense of humor. His impressive CV ends with the words “Personal interests, pre-1969: Dylan, anarchism, vegetables.”
“Ian will be missed, and I doubt if he can be replaced. I hope that is just my ignorance – that there are indeed new and dedicated scholars [who will] help inspire the academic and social study of Cambodian Buddhism, both in Cambodia and in the west.”
–Professor Peter Skilling, president, Fragile Palm Leaves Foundation and KF advisor