Sheng Yen Professorship Chair opened in Columbia University, New York
Following the signed agreement in December 2006 between Sheng Yen Education Foundation and Columbia University, the Sheng Yen Professorship in Chinese Buddhist Studies was formally inaugurated on 10 May 2007. This is the world’s first permanent professorship chair in Chinese Buddhism for academic research.
Shih Jianchang, president, and Tsai Qingyen, executive director of the Sheng Yen Education Foundation, and Professor Yang Pei flew from Taiwan to attend the inauguration ceremony with the Professor Lee C. Bollinger, President of Columbia University. President Shih Jianchang stated that academic studies on Tibetan and Japanese Buddhism enjoy higher profiles both in Europe and the United States than Chinese Buddhism – “This is an important breakthrough for Chinese Buddhism.”
The first incumbent of the chair, Professor Yu Chunfan, from Columbia University’s Department of Religion, said that Columbia University launched a US$37.5 million matching program in September 2006 to support and set up new professorships in this area of research.
Professor Yu, accompanied by Professor Paul J. Anderer, Vice Provost of the University of Columbia and Professor Robert Hymes, Department Chair of the East Asian Languages and Culture Department, first put forth the proposal about the professorship chair in a meeting with Venerable Master Sheng Yen at the Dharma Drum Mountain (DDM) Chan Meditation Center in New York in December 2006.
As a Buddhist scholar, Professor Yu mentioned that it was very sad to see Chinese Buddhism frequently looked down upon by the international community. Therefore, ever since she began teaching at Columbia University in 2004, Professor Yu has been actively striving to raise the profile of Chinese Buddhism in Western Society.
Professor Yang Pei advocated the strong support for the new “Sheng Yen Professorship” by the Sheng Yen Education Foundation. The foundation is currently planning a proposal for awarding scholarships to those wishing to conduct their doctorate degrees on Venerable Master Sheng Yen’s teachings.
(translated by Jin Yang/edited by DDM Australia Editing Team)