September 2020


Structuring the Longevity of Buddhist Studies in Universities


It’s back-to-school time for many, and in this issue we share some news from our academic development area. First, Khyentse Foundation, in partnership with the German Tara Foundation, is pleased to announce a new tenured position in Tibetan Buddhist Studies at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich. Second, we are delighted to introduce Professor Sangseraima Ujeed, who will fill the newly endowed position in Buddhist Studies at the University of Michigan. We also share an update on our first endowed Buddhist Chair, at the University of California at Berkeley. And finally, we’re happy to report that KF is now working with eight universities (in North America, Europe, the UK, and Australia) to provide much-needed support for doctoral students in Buddhist Studies. 

We invited Anja Hartmann, chair of KFs Academic Development Committee, to share her insights on the evolution of global academia and her thoughts on KFs vision for higher education, to ensure the authenticity and longevity of Buddhist Studies programs in the academic world. 

Global academia as we know it is a European invention. As Walter Rüegg put it in the foreword to his book, A History of the University in Europe (Cambridge 1992),The university is a European institution; indeed, it is the European institution par excellence.” The university was born from the legacy of scholarly monastic learning on one hand and European monarchsdesire to accumulate, structure, and make worldly use of knowledge on the other hand. Thus, from its very beginning, academia was both deeply rooted in the Christian tradition and strongly connected to European politics, sometimes with a decidedly antireligious (later calledsecular”) twist. For centuries, founding a university was many a European monarchs claim to outer power and inner independence.


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.

After an extensive international search, the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Michigan is happy to announce that it has selected a scholar to fill its new position in Tibetan Buddhist Studies, funded by an endowment from Khyentse Foundation. The department received dozens of applications from highly qualified scholars from around the world. 

Buddhist Studies at Berkeley Going Strong

KF endowed its first Buddhist chair at UC Berkeley in 2006, and we’re pleased that Buddhist Studies at UC Berkeley is growing ever stronger and has become one of the most comprehensive and outstanding centers for Buddhist Studies and research in North America. 

Upon hearing the news about LMU, Professor Jake Dalton, holder of the Khyentse Buddhist Chair at UC Berkeley, said, “I’m thrilled to hear this wonderful news that Tibetan Buddhist Studies will continue at Munich! These are hard times all around, yet again and again Khyentse Foundation offers such good news with its open-hearted response. It’s more important than ever to continue supporting Buddhist Studies, to offer young people alternative ways of thinking and creative ways of being in the world. This is a key position, yet another example of how the foundation is making a real difference in the field.” 

Professor Dalton continued, “Thanks to Khyentse Foundation, Buddhist Studies is thriving at UC Berkeley. We have built a remarkably vibrant intellectual environment here. Each term, we offer a rich array of classes on multiple Buddhist traditions, as well as an active schedule of events. We host numerous visiting professors and postdoctoral fellows and regularly enjoy co-teaching seminars with each other. This makes for a dynamic and exciting atmosphere, an ideal setting for our excellent students to learn and be inspired toward their own new discoveries.”

Prof. Jacob Dalton (far right) with his Ph.D. student Catherine Dalton (center; no relation to Prof. Jacob Dalton), with all the members of her dissertation committee, including Prof. Robert Sharf (second from the left), chair of the Center for Buddhist Studies, February 2019.

Professor Dalton also shared that almost all of the graduate students trained at Berkeley over the past 15 years have achieved tenure-track or tenured positions at prestigious universities, including Yale University, the University of Michigan, the University of South Carolina, the University of Toronto, Vanderbilt University, the University of Arizona, Kathmandu University, and Nanzan University in Japan.

Support for Universities to Fund Postgraduate Students 

Khyentse Foundation recently announced a new program to provide selected universities with much-needed support to fund doctoral students in Buddhist Studies. Depending on factors such as location, university costs, and existing support, grants up to $25,000 will be offered. These grants will be for up to 4 years, depending on need.  

Read the full article here