Washington: The Florida International
University (FIU) has established the Bhagwan Mahavir
Professorship of Jain Studies.
Said to be the first professorship of its kind in the
western world, the Jain Education and Research Foundation
donated USD 600,000 to establish the endowed professorship in
the Department of Religious Studies in the College of Arts &
Sciences, the university said in a statement today.
Nathan Katz, FIU professor who specialises in the
religions of India, was named the first Bhagwan Mahavir
Professor at an installation ceremony on April 16.
"Dr Katz is a pioneer in the field of Indo-Judaic Studies
and has been involved in the Jewish-Hindu dialogue for
decades, making him a great candidate for this professorship"
said Kenneth G Furton, dean of the College of Arts and
The endowment is part of a larger initiative by the Jain
community to establish an academic education centre for Jain
studies and research at FIU.
The proposed Bhagwan Mahavir Interdisciplinary Centre for
Religious Pluralism would offer courses in Jainism provide
research opportunities and collaborate with universities
throughout the world, the university said.
"The centre will link FIU with other universities
globally in a number of projects, including study programmes
in India, working with secondary schools and community
organisations on religious pluralism, summer institutes,
faculty and student exchanges, and lecture series, among other
projects," Professor Katz said.
The endeavour is being led by Dipak C Jain, renowned
scholar and chairman of the Jain Education and Research
Foundation. "FIU`s faculty shows excellence in the
dissemination and application of knowledge," said Samani
Charitra Prajna. "The diverse ethnic student body has freedom
of thought and expression. This professorship will open new
horizons and be a truly worlds ahead initiative for FIU."
Founded in 1965 and Miami`s only public research
university, the FIU has more than 38,000 students,and has been
classified by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of
Teaching as a "High Research Activity University".