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IBS Professorial Chair Endowments Donations Make Impact

The Dharma Forward Campaign


The Buddhist Churches of America (BCA) and Institute of Buddhist Studies (IBS) have adopted the Dharma Forward as a shared vision to build the future of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism in America.


Dharma Forward is a long-term fundraising campaign to address capital needs and provide for the long-term sustainment of its educational, outreach, and propagational efforts. The focus of Dharma Forward is to undertake a major investment in our future through four initiatives:


  • Education and programs

  • Technology and Outreach

  • Facilities and operations

  • Ministerial Support and Scholarships


IBS and Buddhist Education


Both BCA and IBS recognize that Buddhist education is a vital component of our long-term commitment to spread the Dharma to all people and all segments of society. We also recognize that the Institute of Buddhist Studies will continue to play a central role in furthering Buddhist education at our temples, for our ministers, in universities and throughout society. For this reason, an important goal of the Dharma Forward campaign is the full funding of six legacy professorial chair endowments at IBS.


IBS Graduate-Level Education


IBS is a seminary and graduate school. As a post-graduate academic institution, IBS strives to offer a high quality, graduate-level education for persons who aspire to become Shin Buddhist ministers, chaplains, and scholars. It is vital, therefore, that IBS have a faculty consisting of scholars and practitioners who are excellent in instruction, research, and achievement in specialized areas of Buddhist and religious studies.


What is a professorial chair?


An IBS professorial chair establishes a lasting legacy in the propagation of the Buddhist teachings in the United States and around the world.

  • A professorial chair often references a particular area of study. This signals a commitment to that area of research and education. Hence, by having a number of professorial chairs, IBS can offer students a broad range of specialized, graduate-level educational opportunities.

  • A professorial chair is often named for a person(s) or organization that made significant contributions to the propagation of the Dharma, creating bonds of karmic connection between IBS and our donors.

  • An appointment to a professorial chair is an academic honor for an IBS professor. It is a recognition of that person’s teaching, scholarship and academic achievement.


The Institute of Buddhist Studies receives the benefits of six Legacy Professorial Chair Endowments. They are:


  1. George and Sakaye Aratani Professor of Contemporary Shin Buddhist Studies

  2. H.E. Kosho Ohtani Professor of Shin Buddhist Studies

  3. Noboru and Yaeko Hanyu Buddhist Chaplaincy Professorial Chair

  4. The Hojo Tokunaga Professorial Chair

  5. Yehan Numata Professorial Chair of Japanese Buddhist Studies

  6. Rev. Yoshitaka Tamai Professor of Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Studies


The newest professorial chair is the Eshinni & Kakushinni Professor of Women and Buddhist Studies. By establishing this chair, IBS recognizes that women and Buddhism is a very important topic that merits greater focus in its educational program.


What is an endowment fund?


An endowment is established with a gift from a donor and an agreement with IBS that it will provide a permanent source of income from funds held and invested in perpetuity. An endowed professorial chair is a faculty position supported by the annual revenue from the endowment. An endowment can support the professor’s compensation, research projects and support staff well into the future.


Professorial endowment funds provide sustainable sources of income and financial stability, ensuring that IBS can continue to realize its mission—providing quality education for all of its students.

How does an endowment fund work?


The principal of a professorial chair endowment fund is invested, and part of the earnings is used to fund the salary and benefits of the professor appointed to the named chair.



  • DONATIONS: Donations given to a professorial chair fund make up the principal, or corpus, of the endowment. The principal is never distributed. Thus, it will be held in perpetuity.

  • INVESTMENT: The principal is invested by the BCA Endowment Foundation, earning income for the fund. The earned income increases the value of the endowment.

  • DISTRIBUTION: An annual distribution of a percentage of the earned income (usually 5% of the fund’s value) is made to IBS in accord with the fund’s MOU. The principal is never touched.

  • PROFESSORIAL CHAIR: The distributed funds are used to cover the professor’s salary, benefits, and research, programs, and support staff costs in order to fulfill the purpose of the chair.


What does full-funding mean?


A “fully-funded” professorial chair endowment requires at least $3 million to support a full-time professor. An endowment fund in that amount would generate enough income to support the distribution of roughly $150,000 annually to cover the salary, benefits, research costs and support staff for a full-time professor.


Presently, only the Aratani Professorial Chair Endowment is fully funded. When an endowment is not fully funded, IBS must draw from other sources or its general operating funds to cover those costs. This impacts other aspects of the IBS program. So, IBS hopes to bring all of its legacy professor chairs and the Eshinni & Kakushinni chair to full funding very soon.


Still, it is important to note that, even before a professorial chair endowment is fully funded, it still earns income that can be used every year to support research, symposiums, publications, and other activities in support of the fund’s purpose.


IBS Professorial Chairs


This means that every donation to an IBS professorial chair endowment will have immediate impact. Every dollar distributed from a fund’s earned income has been and will continue to be used each and every year to support IBS professors as they teach, do research, publish and further Buddhist studies and Buddhist education.


IBS, BCA, and Dharma Forward are grateful that, in this and upcoming issues of the Wheel of Dharma, we will be able to present information about the IBS professorial chairs. Articles will introduce the person or persons whose service to the Dharma inspired the creation of the chair and the scholarly and religious work being done by the professors appointed to those chairs.


The Reverend Yoshitaka Tamai Chair


We will start this month with the Rev. Yoshitaka Tamai Chair. This professorial chair was named in honor of the late Reverend Yoshitaka Tamai of the Tri-State/Denver Buddhist Temple. Dr. Scott A. Mitchell is the Rev. Yoshitaka Tamai Professor of Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Studies.


Dr. Mitchell is a graduate of IBS’s Master of Arts program and earned his Ph.D. from the Graduate Theological Union. He has been teaching at IBS since 2007 and was appointed to the Rev. Tamai professorial chair in 2015.


Early in his graduate work, he learned of the long history of Jodo Shinshu and Japanese American Buddhists in America, and this has been a focus of his research ever since. Dr. Mitchell has co-edited and written several books and articles, including “Buddhism in America,” published by Bloomsbury Press in 2016. Oxford University Press will publish his next book, “Mid-Century Modern Buddhism: Japanese Americans, the Beat Generation, and American Buddhism.” The book focuses on the Berkeley Buddhist Temple, and in particular, the Berkeley Bussei, an important publication of the Young Buddhist Association.


Dr. Mitchell argues that Nisei Buddhists after the war made a diverse and inclusive community that had far reaching impacts on the development of both American Buddhism and academic Buddhist studies. Indeed, the dedication of Japanese American Buddhists, he argues, made American Buddhism possible.


This awareness of Shin Buddhist history in the United States makes Dr. Mitchell particularly grateful to hold the Rev. Yoshitaka Tamai professorial chair named in honor of the Rev. Tamai’s decades of service to the Dharma in America.


As a result of this appointment, Dr. Mitchell has been able to teach classes annually at IBS on American Buddhist history and Shin Buddhist history. He has also given lectures and talks for the Center of Buddhist Education and the Ministers Assistant program, been invited to lecture at Ryukoku University in Kyoto, and was the keynote speaker for the Tri-State Denver Buddhist Temple’s centennial celebration in 2016.


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