Dr. Lewis R. Lancaster

Dr. Lewis R. Lancaster is Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at University of the West and Professor Emeritus of East Asian Languages at the University of California (UC), Berkeley. For over six decades, Dr. Lancaster has dedicated his life to the development, research and teaching of Buddhism. His teaching and research have impacted countless individuals around the globe. Instrumental in building the field of Buddhist studies, Dr. Lancaster has published over 75 research articles and reviews and has authored or edited numerous books including Prajñāpāramitā and Related Systems, The Korean Buddhist Canon, Buddhist Scriptures, Early Ch’an in China and Tibet, and Assimilation of Buddhism in Korea. Dr. Lancaster served as a key figure in the creation of a descriptive catalog and digitization of the Korean Buddhist canon and was awarded the Jogye Order’s 2014 Grand Award for his service to Buddhism. He also founded the Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative (ECAI), which uses computer-based technology to map the spread of Buddhism from the remote past to the present. He has enjoyed a long career of teaching and mentorship at UC Berkeley and UWest. Dedicated to bringing Buddhist education to the incarcerated, Dr. Lancaster has taught in the California prison system, and his efforts helped inspire the Engaged Buddhist Alliance, a non-profit organization that provides college-level classes on Buddhism at eight Southern California state prisons.

Dr. Lancaster assisted Venerable Master Hsing Yun of Fo Guang Shan in the establishment of University of the West. As President of UWest from 2004 to 2006, he led the university through its initial accreditation. He continues to teach and mentor graduate students at UWest and remains a valuable guide to the university. He currently serves on the board of directors of Nan Tien Institute in Unanderra, Australia and as advisor to the Fo Guang Dictionary of Buddhism. Most recently, he co-curated the “Buddhist Maritime Silk Road,” an expansive digital art exhibition that can now be viewed at the Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum and online. His ongoing projects (Atlas of Buddhism in Inner Asia, Hanayama Early Buddhist Studies Database), publications, and presentations continue to provide new insight into the Buddhist world.


Honoring a Legacy of Scholarship & Service

We invite you to honor Professor Lewis Lancaster and help carry forward his incredible legacy of research, teaching, and service. University of the West, in cooperation with Dr. Lancaster, has established the Lewis R. Lancaster Endowment Fund. Your gift to the fund will help preserve Dr. Lancaster’s foundational work in Buddhist studies, provide continuing support for innovative research, and ensure the study of Buddhism for generations to come.

Dr. Lancaster will be recognized at the 30th anniversary celebration of the founding of University of the West on April 21, 2022. At this event, we will officially announce the naming of the university’s library in honor of Dr. Lancaster and the establishment of the endowment fund. We would like to elicit your support and appreciation of Dr. Lancaster. Gifts and donations received by April 1, 2022 will be made known to Dr. Lancaster and acknowledged at the celebration.

For more information on making your contribution to the Lewis Lancaster Endowment Fund, please contact: Fong Sam <fongs@uwest.edu> or myself <president@uwest.edu>. We are happy to work with you on your gift. All contributions are tax deductible.

Your support directly ensures Dr. Lancaster’s ongoing vision and work. Please join us in honoring a great scholar and humanitarian for his lifetime achievement and contributions to the university, the field of Buddhist studies, and the international Buddhist sangha.


Minh-Hoa Ta

Lewis R. Lancaster Endowment Fund

Ensuring a legacy of Buddhist understanding, wisdom, and insight


The Lewis R. Lancaster Endowment Fund supports programs and initiatives that preserve and continue Dr. Lancaster’s innovative research and work in Buddhist studies and the digital realm. These programs and initiatives include:

The Lewis R. Lancaster Research Library at UWest

Support the development of the library’s materials and collections in Buddhist studies, including the housing and preservation of Dr. Lancaster’s works and personal papers.


Maritime Buddhism Atlas

Support the ongoing work of the project, which maps the historical spread of Buddhism along the “Great Circle” of oceanic trade routes and seaports throughout Asia.


Atlas of Buddhism in Inner Asia

Support a new atlas project, which maps the historical spread of Buddhism throughout Inner Asia, most specifically, Russia and Mongolia, beyond the Silk Road.


Hanayama Early Buddhist Studies Digital Database

Support the digitization and database development of Shinsho Hanayama’s Bibliography of Buddhism (1961), a comprehensive survey of Western-language works on Buddhism dating back to the 19th


Postdoctoral Fellowships & Graduate Student Research Assistantships & Grants

Support a team of researchers dedicated to these projects and provide additional grants for Buddhist studies research that incorporates new digital approaches, platforms, and techniques.

The Institute for the Study of Humanistic Buddhism (ISHB) at University of the West (UWest) will serve as the institutional home and provide oversight for the two atlas projects. The ISHB and Lewis R. Lancaster Research Library will collaborate on the Hanayama Digital Database.

University of the West is deeply grateful for our supporters:

Nan Tien
University of Arizona Center for Buddhist Studies
Pacific Neighborhood Consortium
Giving to General Operations

University of the West

University of the West was founded in 1991 as an alternative to the conventional university experience, integrating a liberal arts tradition with a global perspective and rooted in Buddhist wisdom. Accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), UWest provides academic degree programs, including bachelor’s degrees in business administration, English, liberal arts and psychology, and graduate degrees in Buddhist chaplaincy, business administration, psychology, and religious studies.

One of Southern California’s small treasures, UWest provides an affordable private education instilled with Buddhist values, placing strong emphasis on the cultivation of character, compassion, and community.

The Lewis Lancaster Research Library

The library at University of the West provides facilities and resources for research and study for students, faculty, and researchers, and is the gem of the university. It currently houses approximately 83,000 physical items on site and over 16,000 full-text journals online. At the heart of the library’s collection are its holdings focused on religious studies, with an emphasis on Buddhism. This includes 22 sets of sutras (Buddhist scriptures) in various languages such as Chinese, English, Pali, and Sanskrit.

The library participates with academic institutions worldwide in interlibrary lending and borrowing, offering access to UWest’s specialized collection. Dr. Lancaster and Mrs. Lois Lancaster have contributed over 3,000 volumes to the library, including classics in Buddhist Studies. Per a proclamation from the UWest Board of Trustees, the library will be named the Lewis Lancaster Research Library in April 2022.

ISHB picture lancaster

The Institute for the Study of Humanistic Buddhism

The Institute for the Study of Humanistic Buddhism (ISHB) at University of the West is devoted to the multi-faceted study of Buddhism and its ongoing application within the human realm. Inspired by Master Hsing Yun’s vision of Humanistic Buddhism and its emphasis on education, ethics, art, and culture, the institute serves as the home for a wide range of research projects and scholarly work that enhance our understanding of Buddhism historically and in the contemporary moment.

The institute aims to (1) encourage new directions in the academic study of Buddhism, (2) facilitate networks and conversations between scholars, religious organizations, and practitioners, and (3) develop Buddhist resources that are applicable to everyday life. Dr. Lancaster served on the advisory board that worked towards the establishment of the institute in 2018. In 2020-2021, the ISHB hosted a series of monthly online lectures by Dr. Lancaster on topics such as causation, faith and practice, suffering, mindfulness, compassion, detachment, karma, and enlightenment. He is an invaluable contributor to the institute.