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Buddhist Studies donor honoured for $4 million gift

BUDDHIST STUDIES: Celebrating a $4 million gift to Buddhist studies at U of T Scarborough are (l to r): U of T Chancellor David Peterson, Mr. Robert Ho, chairman of Tun Lin Kok Yuen (Hong Kong), U of T President David Naylor, and U of T Scarborough Principal Kwong-loi Shun. Photo by Ken Jones.

The University of Toronto Scarborough yesterday recognized the generous $4 million contribution to Buddhist Studies made by Tung Lin Kok Yuen , Hong Kong, a non-profit Buddhist organization focused on raising and inspiring public interest in Buddhism.

It is the biggest gift to the University of Toronto Scarborough in campus history. Officials from the university, the community, and the donor organization attended a ceremony to celebrate the donation and its impact on Buddhist studies.

Mr. Robert Ho, Chairman of the donor organization, and members of Tung Lin Kok Yuen’s board of directors from Hong Kong, were on hand for the ceremony and luncheon held on the lush grounds and gardens of the historic Miller Lash House at the University of Toronto Scarborough.

“Our goal is to enhance public knowledge of Buddhism, to raise awareness of and appreciation for Buddhism through support of Buddhist studies, not just in Canada but worldwide,” said Mr. Ho.

“We would like to see Buddhism viewed not just as a religion predominant in Asia, but more widely known and better understood by the international community,” added Mr. Ho. “Our board decided to make this gift to the University of Toronto because your university is located in a remarkably diverse city, and your Scarborough campus houses one of the most culturally diverse student populations among North American universities. Your institution is uniquely positioned to take on the responsibility of inspiring international interest in Buddhism.”

In celebration of the gift, a plaque was unveiled by Mr. Ho, Chancellor David Peterson, U of T President David Naylor and U of T Scarborough Principal Kwong-loi Shun.

The gift is also the largest initiative in support of Buddhist Studies at the University of Toronto, said U of T President David Naylor. It creates the momentum needed to propel the University of Toronto into the ranks of leading world institutions for the study of Buddhism, said President Naylor. It will raise the profile of Buddhists studies in Canada by establishing an endowed visiting professorship, scholarships and a series of ongoing conferences and public lectures.

This gift has huge significance for the University, for the Scarborough campus, and for the community in the Toronto area, said professor Kwong-loi Shun, Principal of the University of Toronto Scarborough. “Not only will the gift enrich our curriculum and enhance the vibrant student experience at the University, it will also promote the interest in, and further the understanding of, Buddhism in the GTA community at large.  “Within the University of Toronto, the Scarborough campus is an ideal setting for developing courses and programs in Buddhist Studies. Our student population is one of the most diverse in North America, and there is broad interest among faculty and students in the teaching and study of Buddhism, and of Asian cultures in general.”

In September 2005, Mr. Ho and the Tun Lin Kok Yuen Canada Foundation donated $4 million to support Buddhist studies at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. In 2001, they assisted in founding the University of Hong Kong’s Centre of Buddhist Studies. Mr. Ho said the organization’s long term aim is to set up a global university network for Buddhist Studies.

Chancellor David Peterson remarked that in a world that is troubled by conflict and wars, the enhanced focus on Buddhism will be very timely.

“I can’t think of a more propitious time in the history of this world, when we are spending enormous time and resources to understand our differences and to enrich our understanding of one another, to focus on the study of Buddhism,” said the Chancellor. “This tremendous donation from Tung Lin Kok Yuen will establish a lasting opportunity for leading international scholars to make exceptional contributions to teaching and research in Buddhist studies at the University of Toronto.”

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