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His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Visit UB in Fall 2006 as part of Distinguished Speakers Series

By Arthur Page

Release Date: April 28, 2005

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo will host His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 16 months for a two-day visit on Sept. 21 and 22, 2006, that will culminate the university's efforts over a period of nearly 10 years to bring the Dalai Lama to Buffalo.

While the specifics of the visit have not been worked out, it is anticipated that in addition to a large public address as part of UB's 2006-07 Distinguished Speakers Series, the Dalai Lama -- who is head of state in exile of Tibet and spiritual leader of the Tibetan people -- will hold smaller instructional sessions with faculty and students. An interfaith service with representatives of the local religious communities also is planned.

An agreement to bring His Holiness to UB was concluded last month during a trip to the Office of Tibet, the Dalai Lama's official representative in New York City, by Stephen Dunnett, UB vice provost for international education, and William J. Regan, director of conferences and special events. A steering committee composed of university and community representatives will oversee the complex planning and logistical effort required in advance of the visit.

UB President John B. Simpson described the pending visit as "truly a great honor for the university, and a meaningful opportunity for our academic community and the larger communities we serve. We are profoundly honored that His Holiness has graciously agreed to visit our academic community.

"His Holiness' teachings, and his efforts in promoting peaceful international relations throughout the world, have enlightened and inspired many in our university and in our region," Simpson said. "For a globally focused university like UB, it is impossible to quantify the significance of the opportunity to learn at first-hand from such an eminent and esteemed world leader. The visit of His Holiness promises to be a milestone event in the history of the university.

Dunnett noted that "leading universities around the country vie for the honor of hosting the Dalai Lama, and we are singularly fortunate in being chosen, particularly now, when for reasons of frail health, His Holiness has had to reduce his travel schedule."

"This is a major event not only for the university but also for Western New York," Dunnett said. "The Dalai Lama is revered around the world as a great spiritual teacher. Tibetan Buddhism has a large following in North America, and His Holiness attracts large numbers of people wherever he goes. There is a very active Buddhist community in Western New York for whom the visit will be a landmark event."

Dunnett said UB's large and diverse international community, and its position near the Canadian border were major reasons why the university was selected for a visit by the Dalai Lama. The university enrolls some 3,400 international students, including 2,200 from Asia, and has many faculty, staff and scholars from countries around the world.

"We currently have four Tibetan students on Fulbright grants enrolled at UB," he added. "They will be most helpful to us in planning for the Dalai Lama's visit."

He noted that UB also is known for its innovative Asian Studies Program. In preparation for the Dalai Lama's visit, Asian studies will have a lead role in organizing educational programs to raise awareness on campus about the riches of Tibetan culture and history.

"In an audience I had with His Holiness during his visit to Toronto last year, he expressed a special interest in UB's international character and outreach," Dunnett said. "He sees the purpose of a visit to UB as primarily educational in nature, and is keen to speak to our students and faculty in a direct and personal way as a teacher. In fact, he made a special request that a private audience be arranged with our international students.

"His Holiness also is familiar with the work of my colleague Dr. Richard V. Lee, professor of medicine in the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and an adjunct professor of anthropology, who accompanied me during the private audience in Toronto last year and who has led a number of Medical Trek programs to Ladakh, the remote region of North India bordering Tibet, where many Tibetan exiles have taken refuge."

For updates about the Dalai Lama's planned visit to UB, or to be placed on the early-bird mailing list for ticketing information, please visit http://www.specialevents.buffalo.edu.