Monday, February 22, 2016

UC Irvine Rejects Endowed Chairs in Religious Studies Because of Donor Restrictions

The University of California Irvine is rejecting some $6 million in contributions to create four endowed chairs relating to the religions and history of India. Inside Higher Ed reports that an Ad Hoc Committee on Endowed Chairs in the School of Humanities has recommended against the chairs because the agreements establishing them "include language that is not consistent with University policies related to religious and academic freedom."  (Full text of committee's report).  The report recommends rejection, regardless of agreement modifications, of two chairs proposed by the Dharma Civilization Foundation (DCF)-- one a chair in Indic and Vedic Civilization Studies and a second in Modern India Studies-- because "DCF is unusually explicit and prescriptive on appropriate disciplinary formations, what constitutes good or acceptable scholarship, and, indeed, what constitutes good or acceptable scholars."  According to Inside Higher Ed, The Dharma Civilization Foundation is:
a California entity that seeks to fund the academic study and teaching of Indian religions as a corrective to what it describes as widespread misrepresentations of Hinduism by scholars who do not practice the religion.
The Committee also recommended that two other proposed chairs endowed by families-- one chair in Jain Studies and one in Sikh Studies-- be returned to the dean's office for further review.  The Dean of the School of Humanities accepted all the recommendations.