Numata Lectureship in Buddhist Studies at McGill University


Published: 25May1998

The Faculty of Religious Studies at McGill University is the recent recipient of a $1 million gift from the Tokyo- based BDK Foundation to establish the Numata Lectureship in Buddhist Studies.

This newly created position will strengthen the Faculty of Religious Studies and its program of East Asian Religions. The Lectureship will provide additional support to the Faculty in its mission to study, teach and interpret world religions, particularly the increasingly popular Buddhism. The Numata Lecturer will work with faculty members, contribute to scholarship within the Faculty, and guide students at the undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate levels.

Dr. B. Barry Levy, Dean of the Faculty of Religious Studies, is thrilled by both the gift and its timing : "The Numata grant is important for several reasons. Coming as it does during a time of fiscal restraint, it offers our Faculty of Religious Studies the opportunity to expand offerings in Buddhism and to give this important spiritual tradition added visibility in the Western world. As well, it demonstrates international confidence in McGill and the Faculty by strengthening us as a permanent center of Buddhist Studies."

Dean Levy has announced that Faculty Council has approved the appointment of Professor Victor Hori as the first Numata Scholar for the 1998-99 academic year. Professor Hori, who teaches Buddhism and other Asian religious traditions to hundreds of McGill students every year, is currently on sabbatical in Japan, completing the research for a new book. In addition to many years of teaching at McGill, Hori has taught as a Numata Scholar at the University of Toronto and Harvard.

This generous gift to McGill coincides with the Faculty of Religious Studies 50th Anniversary. It reflects the increasing interest in religions that are becoming a part of the mainstream in Canada, and the need within society to study and understand them.

McGill is engaged in research and teaching partnerships that reach around the globe. New and expanding initiatives in East Asia by other Faculties are proof of this University’s growing involvement with the cultures of China and Japan, as well as other Asian countries. The Faculty of Religious Studies plays an important role in understanding the social and cultural life in these countries through the study of their religions. The endowment made possible by the gift of the BDK Foundation is an important contribution both to the Faculty of Religious Studies and to McGill University.

The BDK Foundation

In 1964, when the Tokyo-based Mitutoyo Manufacturing Company celebrated its 30th anniversary, its Chairman Dr. Yehan Numata, founded the Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai (BDK) and the Numata Center. A devout Buddhist and scholar, Dr. Numata, established BDK to promote the understanding and awareness of Buddhism.

The purpose of Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai is to transmit the Buddhist religion to as many people in the world as possible, without expounding the doctrines of any particular sect or denomination. BDK oversees many international activities, among them education, publishing and translation, and building projects. The Foundation has funded academic appointments in many leading western higher learning institutions, including Berkeley, Leiden, Oxford and the University of Chicago, the Universities of Calgary and Toronto, and now McGill. As part of its translation operations, BDK has also undertaken the landmark task of translating the entire Chinese Buddhist Canon, the Tripitaka.

Mitutoyo Corporation

Mitutoyo was founded in 1934 by Yehan Numata; it is the world’s largest manufacturer of measurement devices and technologies, including advanced micrometers, calipers, indicators and related equipment. Mitutoyo’s operations span 18 countries across Southeast Asia, Western Europe, and the Americas.