University of the West (UWest) celebrated its 30th anniversary on April 21st and held the naming and ribbon-cutting ceremony for Lewis R. Lancaster Research Library and Lois Lancaster Memorial Garden. More than ten local dignitaries including U.S. House of Representative Ms. Judy May Chu, California State Assemblymember Mr. Mike Fong, City Mayor of San Gabriel - Mr. Tony Ding, Councilmember for the City of San Gabriel - Mr. John Wu, and Councilmember for the City of Rosemead- Ms. Sandra Armenta attended and presented awards.
Congresswoman Judy Chu recognized the achievements of UWest over the past 30 years, not only in providing scholarships to the underprivileged students so they have an opportunity to receive higher education but also in organizing free classes to benefit the residents in the Whittier Community on a regular basis. Ms. Chu was personally there to present a Certificate of Appreciation. Mr. Wu, Councilmember for the City of San Gabriel, who graduated from Kaohsiung Pu-Men High School 30 years ago, said he remembered Venerable Master Hsing Yun’s teaching on the Three Acts of Goodness and coming to UWest was like coming home. He vowed to be a city council member who practices the Three Acts of Goodness.
President of UWest, Minh-Hoa Ta, remarked that Venerable Master Hsing Yun (VMHY) established the first overseas university in 1991 which was our UWest (formerly Hsi Lai University). "Fostering talents through education" is VMHY’s lifelong great vow. At the age of thirty, he achieved fruitful results and marked an important milestone in the development of Buddhist education. During the celebration, Dr. Ta presented Certificates of Appreciation to the long-term benefactors who have supported UWest, and thanked them for sponsoring students to complete their studies like the living Bodhisattvas.
In a speech at his alma mater, Dr. Igor Kohan, a former recipient of the IBEF International Buddhist Fellowship, thanked IBEF for the scholarship that enabled him to complete his doctoral degree. Now he is serving as the Chair of the Department of Religion at La Sierra University. Although Dr. Kohan, originally from Ukraine, was concerned about his family who had been suffering in the war, he was very grateful and excited to be back at his alma mater where he received his doctorate. This was a great opportunity for him to see the alumni who have graduated from the university and are making a difference in their fields.
In his address, Venerable Hui Dong, Executive Trustee of UWest, not only thanked people from all walks of life for their support but also praised Professor Lancaster's lifelong dedication to the development, research, and teaching of Buddhism. His contributions, academic works, and service to Buddhism have influenced countless people around the world for the past 60 years. Professor Lancaster assisted VMHY in establishing the UWest and served as the President from 2004 to 2006. In the past 30 years, Professor Lancaster has successively donated his research and books to the library of UWest. With the 30th anniversary celebration, the library was named Lewis R. Lancaster Research Library to acknowledge his academic and Buddhist contributions.
Professor Lancaster's wife, Lois Lancaster, was a multi-talented artist. Her keen and profound insight into human nature was reflected in her paintings and works of art. The display of these monumental works has added beauty to this celebration. UWest dedicated the garden adjacent to the library to Mrs. Lois Lancaster and named it the Lois Lancaster Memorial Garden, so the students and faculty members could feel Mrs. Lancaster's presence and artistic vision on the way to the library.
The 30th anniversary celebration of UWest was organized through the teamwork of its students and faculty members. Various performances and service projects were jointly presented by the professors, students, alumni, and staff. Alex Wu, President of the BLIA Los Angeles Chapter, along with the elder advisor, executives, and members of nearly 50 people came to congratulate. The event was perfectly rounded off by a warm and touching atmosphere.