Good morning, I am Dr. Peter M. Rojcewicz, Chief Academic Officer here at the University of the West. It is my sincere pleasure to welcome members of the Buddhist-Catholic Dialog Group to the campus of University of the West, here in Rosemead, CA.
Some of you have never visited our floral-rich campus before, and those of you who have may not know some of the salient points concerning the university, its origin, programs, and mission that make the university well-suited to host inter-faith engagements, such as those of the Buddhist-Catholic Dialog Group.
UWest was established more than 25 years ago by the Grand Master Hsing Yun, founder of the Buddhist order Fo Guang Shan – FGS (Buddha’s Light Mountain), whose headquarters are located in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. The Venerable Grand Master is a leading advocate of Humanistic Buddhism, defined in the minds of many throughout the world by its network of children’s homes, free medical clinics, senior citizen homes, prison ministries, disaster relief, community service, and educational institutions.
The Venerable Grand Master has realized a lifelong commitment to creation of a global network of post-secondary educational institutions, linking Buddhist theory and practices with formal academic studies. UWest is the only American member of the five FGS institutions composing its international consortium. There are two universities in Taiwan – Fo Guang University and Nanhua University – one in Australia – Nantien Institute – and one in the Philippines – Guang Ming College.
All FGS member institutions are associated with and linked to a dynamic system of temple-sponsored research centers where international scholars contribute to research initiatives. University of the West is home of the new Institute for the Study of Humanistic Buddhism (Chinese Mahayana) that is devoted to the multidisciplinary study of Humanistic Buddhism and Fo Guang Shan within a global religious context. A goal is to propagate the Dharma through high quality English-language scholarship.
In addition, FGS Has a network of over 200 branch temples and centers throughout the world. The local FGS representative – Hsi Lai Temple – serves somewhat as an extended campus for learning and personal edification of the entire UWest Community. It is located just east of the UWest campus in nearby Hacienda Heights.
University of the West is an independent university accredited since 2006 by Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). We are authorized to offer undergraduate degrees in General Education, Liberal Arts, English, Psychology, and Business, as well as an MBA degree, MA in Buddhist Chaplaincy (one of four accredited in America), and a MA in Religious Studies. In addition, we offer the world’s only Doctor of Buddhist Ministry (DB Min) in Chaplaincy and a PhD in Religious Studies. Generous scholarship funds provided by Fo Guang Shan position UWest among the top ten most affordable universities in America.
The mission of the UWest, firstly, is to provide a whole-person education in a context informed by Buddhist wisdom and values. The university understands that a purely intellectual or rationalistic approach to learning does not enhance the fullest development of our humanity. Our whole-person approach seeks to integrate intellectual, emotional, aesthetic, socio-cultural, ethical, and spiritual capacities of the head and the heart through both a text-based and experientially rich curriculum, supported by multiple student services.
It is also part of UWest’s mission to facilitate cultural understandings and appreciations between East & West. We see this as a commitment to healing divisions between East and West perspectives, masculine and feminine principles, interiority and exteriority, logos and eros, and the personal and the communal life into wholeness and concord.
UWest is itself very much committed to interfaith cooperation. We are an active member of a local Interfaith Consortium composed of Claremont School of Theology (Christianity), Indic Foundation (Hinduism), Bayan Institute (Islamic), and Academy of Jewish Religion California. Students and faculty from the five institutions attend and teach courses across the member campuses, as part of a cross-registration agreement.
Finally, we are happy today to host your Inter-faith gathering at UWest not only because of our mission and affiliations, but also because of our conversation-based model of learning through inquiry, a highly effective form of campus-wide engagement. We value dialogic knowledge, understood as “meaning flowing through community.” Our commitment to dialog rests on the notion that little can be understood in isolation, and that together we perform our most creative work. Through dialog, we become people acting in relationship with others.
Once again, welcome to the UWest campus. I do very much hope that you will have productive deliberations, enhancing your sense of mutual fellowship.
Peter M. Rojcewicz, PhD
Chief Academic Officer
University of the West