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U-M launches world's first endowed chair of Thai Buddhism after $2M gift

The University of Michigan recently received a gift of $2 million to establish the Thai Professorship of Theravada Buddhism to enhance its Buddhist studies program -- one of the largest in North America.
 
This professorship, dedicated to the Thai tradition of Theravada Buddhism, is believed to be the first such chair in the world.
 
More than 150 million people worldwide follow Theravada Buddhism, the tradition of Buddhism practiced predominantly in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar (Burma), Cambodia and Laos.
 
The chair will be housed in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. In fall 2015, the department will conduct an international search to fill the newly created professorship.
 
When a chair is selected for the U-M position, the person will teach courses and conduct research to advance knowledge of Thai Buddhism. This research will be shared with scholars of Buddhism in Thailand and around the globe, enriching knowledge and understanding of an ancient religion whose teachings continue to inspire the modern world.
 
Amnuay Viravan, the former deputy prime minister, finance minister and foreign minister of Thailand, was the major donor, with matching support provided by the Crown Property Bureau of the Ministry of Finance of Thailand.
 
U-M has a large and dedicated group of Thai alumni, led by Amnuay, who received a doctorate and two master's degrees from the university in the 1950s.
 
"All of the success that I have achieved in my life, I owe to the University of Michigan," he said in a statement. "With the establishment of this chair, I am happy to give something back to my alma mater."
 
Amnuay said it was his intention to dedicate the endowed chair to the king of Thailand.
 
See the original article at the University of Michigan website

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