University of the West

1409 Walnut Grove Ave
Rosemead, CA 91770

Description of Organization

University of the West is a Buddhist-founded, accredited, private, non-profit university located in Rosemead, CA, currently serving between 300-400 students seeking certificates, bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees in the following programs: Buddhist Chaplaincy, Business, English (including English-as-a-Second-Language), General Studies, Psychology, and Religious Studies. University of the West was founded in 1991 by Venerable Master Hsing Yun of the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist order, based in Taiwan. Fo Guang Shan advocates Humanistic Buddhism, or Buddhism for the benefit of society, drawing on the Ch’an (Chinese Zen) tradition. Originally named Hsi Lai University, classes were offered at Hsi Lai Temple in Hacienda Heights, CA, until the university moved to its current campus in Rosemead in 1996. There, it expanded academic offerings, changed its name to University of the West in 2004 to reflect its continuing Americanization, and achieved initial accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges in 2006.

Grant(s) Awarded

In 2017, a grant in the amount of $15,000 was awarded to upgrade and redesign their website to include a fundraising component and the inclusion of podcasts.  The University produces a podcast series including 10 monthly episodes and several short ‘behind the scenes’ videos. 

In 2016, a Women in Buddhism grant was awarded to support a conference co-hosted by University of the West and Sakyadhita International Association of Buddhist Women. Sakyadhita is an international organization supporting Buddhist women; Sakyadhita literally means “Daughters of Sakyamuni Buddha.” The theme of the conference, held in April 2017, was titled: “Diversity in the Dharma: Buddhist Women Engage Race and Exclusionary Politics in America.” The conference was attended by 80 lay and monastic Buddhist women and men for a day of presentations and discussions centering on exploring ways to open Sanghas and communities to greater inclusivity across difference barriers. 

In 2015, a Women in Buddhism grant was awarded to embark on a pilot program supporting visiting female faculty teaching at the graduate level in the Religious Studies and/or Buddhist Chaplaincy departments. The goals of this pilot program were to bring greater gender balance to the faculty, diversify and bring a critical perspective to the curriculum, provide students with strong role models and to bring Buddhist leaders with practical experience of applying the Dharma in everyday leadership positions so that they may share their wisdom with students, faculty, and staff.