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The University of Toronto has launched The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Centre for Buddhist Studies and appoints inaugural director

December 5, 2016

Toron­to, ON – The Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to has launched The Robert H. N. Ho Fam­i­ly Foun­da­tion Cen­tre for Bud­dhist Stud­ies on its St. George cam­pus. An endowment—originally from Tung Lin Kok Yuen, the Hong-Kong based char­i­ta­ble orga­ni­za­tion estab­lished by Mr. Robert H. N. Ho’s grand­moth­er, Lady Clara Ho Tung—will pro­vide an intel­lec­tu­al home for the largest con­tin­gent of Bud­dhist stud­ies experts in Cana­da.

“Our esteemed col­leagues at The Robert H. N. Ho Fam­i­ly Foun­da­tion have demon­strat­ed tremen­dous glob­al lead­er­ship in their sup­port of insti­tu­tions ded­i­cat­ed to advanc­ing the aca­d­e­m­ic study of Bud­dhism. I’m very proud that the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to, my alma mater, now hosts a cen­tre that bears the foundation’s name,” com­ment­ed the Hon­ourable Dr. Vivi­enne Poy, Chan­cel­lor Emeri­ta of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to. “It will be a cat­a­lyst for inno­va­tion and new insights into Buddhism’s place in soci­ety.”

The Centre’s inau­gur­al direc­tor is Pro­fes­sor Frances Gar­rett (PhD, Uni­ver­si­ty of Vir­ginia), a pro­fes­sor of Tibetan and Bud­dhist stud­ies and the asso­ciate chair of the Depart­ment for the Study of Reli­gion in U of T’s Fac­ul­ty of Arts & Sci­ence.

“This is an excit­ing time for Bud­dhist stud­ies at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to,” says Gar­rett. “Our schol­ars reflect the amaz­ing breadth and rich­ness of the tra­di­tion: they are delv­ing into Bud­dhist rit­u­al, art, phi­los­o­phy, med­i­cine and oth­er intel­lec­tu­al devel­op­ments and modes of prac­tice in regions through­out Asia. This sup­port cre­ates, for the first time, a Uni­ver­si­ty-wide locus for advanc­ing research, teach­ing and pub­lic edu­ca­tion on an extra­or­di­nar­i­ly rich and diverse glob­al tra­di­tion.”

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to will join an elite glob­al net­work of Bud­dhist stud­ies ini­tia­tives which have received fund­ing from The Robert H. N. Ho Fam­i­ly Foun­da­tion, includ­ing those at the Cour­tauld Insti­tute of Art in the Unit­ed King­dom, the Uni­ver­si­ty of British Colum­bia in Cana­da, and Har­vard and Stan­ford uni­ver­si­ties in the Unit­ed States.

“A key objec­tive of The Robert H.N. Ho Fam­i­ly Foun­da­tion is to estab­lish a glob­al net­work of out­stand­ing schol­ar­ship in order to devel­op aware­ness and under­stand­ing of Bud­dhism and its rel­e­vance to con­tem­po­rary soci­ety,” says Ted Lip­man, the foundation’s CEO.  “This goal is being real­ized through our col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to.  We are con­fi­dent the University’s com­mit­ment to Bud­dhist stud­ies and the estab­lish­ment of this new cen­tre will fos­ter deep­er insight into the mean­ing and con­text of Bud­dhism.”

The endow­ment will sup­port aca­d­e­m­ic train­ing, col­lab­o­ra­tive research with grad­u­ate and under­grad­u­ate stu­dents, as well as a pro­gram of events that engage schol­ars and the pub­lic seek­ing to deep­en under­stand­ing of the diver­si­ty of Bud­dhist tra­di­tions around the world. The inau­gur­al year will fea­ture an excit­ing line­up of activ­i­ties, includ­ing an under­grad­u­ate research trip to the Himalayas in the spring, a film series on Bud­dhism and the envi­ron­ment, and a schol­ar­ly read­ing group on Dun­huang man­u­scripts, which are a cache of impor­tant reli­gious doc­u­ments dat­ing from the 5th to 11th cen­turies dis­cov­ered in the Mogao Caves in Dun­huang, Chi­na. Also being planned for August 2017 is the annu­al meet­ing of the Inter­na­tion­al Asso­ci­a­tion of Bud­dhist Stud­ies, the largest gath­er­ing of Bud­dhist schol­ars that will be held in Cana­da for the first time sup­port­ed by this gift.

“Hav­ing this cen­tre locat­ed in the heart of the most reli­gious­ly diverse city in the world—among which is a ver­i­ta­ble mosa­ic of Bud­dhist communities—will posi­tion the Uni­ver­si­ty per­fect­ly to facil­i­tate intel­lec­tu­al­ly informed and pub­licly-mind­ed con­ver­sa­tions on Bud­dhism, in terms of both its his­tor­i­cal con­text and its place in con­tem­po­rary soci­ety,” says Pro­fes­sor David Cameron, Dean of U of T’s Fac­ul­ty of Arts & Sci­ence. “We are proud to be a Cana­di­an stew­ard of The Robert H. N. Ho Fam­i­ly Foundation’s lega­cy and vision.”


Estab­lished in 1827, the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to is Canada’s largest uni­ver­si­ty, rec­og­nized as a glob­al leader in research and teach­ing.  The uni­ver­si­ty con­sis­tent­ly ranks among the top 25 uni­ver­si­ties in the world. Its dis­tin­guished fac­ul­ty, insti­tu­tion­al record of ground-break­ing schol­ar­ship and wealth of inno­v­a­tive aca­d­e­m­ic oppor­tu­ni­ties con­tin­u­al­ly attract out­stand­ing aca­d­e­mics and stu­dents from around the world.


Estab­lished in 2005, The Robert H. N. Ho Fam­i­ly Foun­da­tion is a pri­vate phil­an­thropic orga­ni­za­tion based in Hong Kong. The Foundation’s dual mis­sion is to fos­ter appre­ci­a­tion of Chi­nese arts and cul­ture to advance glob­al learn­ing and to cul­ti­vate deep­er under­stand­ing of Bud­dhism in the con­text of con­tem­po­rary life.

The Foun­da­tion sup­ports efforts that make Chi­nese arts—from ancient times to today—approachable and rel­e­vant to audi­ence world­wide. It encour­ages the cre­ation of works, exhi­bi­tions and pub­li­ca­tions that offer orig­i­nal per­spec­tives and improve the qual­i­ty and acces­si­bil­i­ty of Chi­nese arts schol­ar­ship.

Guid­ed by a belief that insights of Bud­dhism have a vital role to play in locat­ing solu­tions to the chal­lenges fac­ing con­tem­po­rary soci­ety, the Foun­da­tion seeks to expand under­stand­ing of Bud­dhist prin­ci­ples. Its cur­rent sup­port to Bud­dhism includes the Bud­dhist Min­istry Ini­tia­tive at Har­vard Divin­i­ty School; a cen­tre and an endowed pro­fes­sor­ship in Bud­dhist stud­ies at Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty; an endowed chair and pro­gram in Bud­dhism and Con­tem­po­rary Soci­ety at the Uni­ver­si­ty of British Colum­bia; a Cen­tre and grad­u­ate degree pro­gram for Bud­dhist art and con­ser­va­tion at The Cour­tauld Insti­tute of Art; a series of Bud­dhist stud­ies grants admin­is­tered by the Amer­i­can Coun­cil of Learned Soci­eties; the Gal­leries of Bud­dhist Art at the Vic­to­ria and Albert Muse­um; and pre­sen­ta­tion of art exhi­bi­tions around the world.

To learn more about The Robert H. N. Ho Fam­i­ly Foun­da­tion and its activ­i­ties, vis­it

Media Con­tact
Frances Gar­rett
The Robert H. N. Ho Fam­i­ly Foun­da­tion Cen­tre for Bud­dhist Stud­ies
Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to

Diana Kuprel
Direc­tor of Alum­ni Rela­tions & Advance­ment Com­mu­ni­ca­tions
Fac­ul­ty of Arts & Sci­ence, Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to
Tel: 416–946-3118

Ted Lip­man
The Robert H. N. Ho Fam­i­ly Foun­da­tion
Tel: +852 2232 0088

Janet Tong
PR & Com­mu­ni­ca­tions
The Robert H. N. Ho Fam­i­ly Foun­da­tion
Tel: +852 2232 0001

The Robert H. N. Ho Fam­i­ly Foun­da­tion Cen­tre for Bud­dhist Stud­ies: