Born in Chiangsu Province, China in 1927, Grand Master Hsing Yun, a widely respected exponent of Humanistic Buddhism, is the founding master of Fo Guang Shan ("Buddha's Light Mountain"), which is one of the largest Buddhist organizations in the world. Fo Guang Shan was established in Taiwan in 1967 and now has over 250 branch temples around the world including Hsi Lai Temple, and over 200 associated centers, chapters, and colleges.
The humanistic projects of Fo Guang Shan include a children's home, a free medical clinic, a senior citizen's home, prison ministries, disaster relief, and various other forms of community service. Fo Guang Shan also administers and sustains various cultural and educational endeavors including nursery schools, high schools, libraries, museums, colleges and universities.
In 1962 Grand Master Hsing Yun established Shou Shan Buddhist College in Kaohsiung, Taiwan and subsequently established 12 other Buddhist colleges for the study of the Buddhist Dharma and the education and formation of Buddhist monks and nuns. A noteworthy related activity was the establishment of the Buddha's Light International Association (BLIA) in 1992. Its membership has grown to over one million in all continents of the world.
The idea of a post-secondary educational institution combining Buddhist practice and formal academic studies has been a lifelong commitment of Grand Master Hsing Yun. After painstaking preparation, four Buddhist-affiliated universities --- University of the West (formerly known as Hsi Lai University), California, U.S.A. (1990), Buddha's Light University (Fo Guang University) of Taiwan (1993) and Nan Hua University, Taiwan (1996), Nan Tien Insitute, Berkeley, NSW Australia --- were established. They combine Buddhist teaching and practice with academic disciplines and grant a variety of degrees. Through Fo Guang Shan, University of the West is associated with its sister campus (Buddha's Light University) and with an extensive and distinguished network of temple-sponsored research centers where scholars from many countries engage in research projects.
Grand Master Hsing Yun was the President of University of the West from its inception to the end of 1997. He is now the President of the Board of Trustees and, along with other members, exercises policy-making and supervisory powers over the University. The administrative and academic functions of the University are entrusted to the President of the University.