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After the visit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to the UC Santa Barbara campus in April of 1991, members of Santa Barbara and surrounding communities made financial contributions to establish a Tibetan Studies endowment at UC Santa Barbara in an effort to preserve and learn from the traditions of Tibetan culture. When sufficient funds were secured, the XIV Dalai Lama Endowed Chair in Tibetan Buddhism and Cultural Studies was created in his honor, expressing high regard for his dedication to the preservation of Tibet, a civilization with a long and rich heritage, and with deep respect for his contribution to the causes of world peace and mutual understanding among disparate peoples.
The Board of Regents of the University of California approved the establishment of the XIV Dalai Lama Chair in Tibetan Buddhism and Cultural Studies in 2001.
After an exhaustive international search, Prof. José Ignacio Cabezón was appointed first holder of the Dalai Lama Chair in 2001. Since joining the Department of Religious Studies in September of that year, Prof. Cabezón has worked to create what today is one of the top programs in Tibetan Buddhist Studies in the country. In 2002, Dr. Gregory Hillis joined the Religious Studies department as Lecturer in Sanskrit and Tibetan Languages. In addition to a variety of courses in Tibetan language, culture and religion at the undergraduate level, there are currently ten graduate students pursuing advanced coursework and research in Tibetan Buddhhism in the departments of Religious Studies and East Asian Languages and Culural Studies.
Dozens of scholars and Tibetan religious leaders have visited the UC Santa Barbara campus under the sponsorship of the Dalai Lama Endowment, most recently Prof. Samdong Rinpoche, Prime Minister of the Tibetan Government in exile. The Endowment has also been the chief source of funding for the organization of film festivals, academic conferences, and art exhibits – events that have enriched both the campus and the local community.
Faculty, Lecturers and Visitors in Tibetan Studies at UCSB (2009)
José Ignacio Cabezón
(PhD, University of Wisconsin) is XIVth Dalai Lama Professor of Tibetan Buddhism and Cultural Studies in the Department of Religious Studies. He specializes in Tibetan Buddhist philosophy, monastic culture, and the study of gender and sexuality.
(PhD, University of Virginia, Charlottesville) is Lecturer in Sanskrit and Tibetan Languages in the Department of Religious Studies. His work foucses on Tibetan and Sanskrit literature, and especially on the rhetoric of Tibetan Buddhist visionary literature.
(PhD, University of Oxford, U.K.) is Rubin Visiting Assistant Professor of Tibetan Studies in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies. She specializes in the anthropology of health and illness in Tibet and the Himlayas.
(PhD, University of Tokyo) is visiting research fellow in the Department of Religious Studies. He specializes in Indo-Tibetan Buddhist doctrinal studies and on Buddhist philosophical hermeneutics.
(PhD, University of Hamburg, Germany), is visiting research fellow in the Department of Religious Studies. She specializes in classical and contemporary Tibetan Buddhist biography, and on Tibetan ritual.