Numata Chair in Buddhist Studies
Dr. Yehan Numata (1897-1994) was chairman of the Mitutoyo Manufacturing Company. Dr. Numata founded Mitutoyo in 1934 and the company went on to become the world's largest manufacturer of precision instruments, with operations spanning 18 countries inSoutheast Asia, Western Europe, and the Americas. A devout Buddhist, Dr. Numata believed that the dissemination of the Buddhist teachings would be beneficial to humanity; he made the international promotion of Buddhism a lifelong project.
Dr. Numata founded the Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai (BDK) and the Numata Center in celebration of Mitutoyo's thirtieth year (1964). Dr. Numata established the Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai to further international understanding and awareness of Buddhism. The Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai's mandate is to disseminate understanding of Buddhism internationally in a spirit of ecumenical exchange. Among the the Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai's projects are facilities construction, education, publication, and translation (e.g., of the Chinese Buddhist Tripitaka into English). As part of its rigorous intellectual focus the Foundation funds Chairs in Buddhist Studies at many universities (Berkeley, Calgary, Chicago, Hamburg, Leiden, McGill, Oxford, Toronto, Vienna).
Through the kind assistance of Dr. Akira Yuyama, the first Visiting Numata Scholar to the University of Calgary, an original donation of $300,000 was received in 1987 from Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai (BDK Tokyo, Japan). To this was added a donation of $35,000 from the Honpa Buddhist Churches of Alberta. Both donations were matched two to one by the Government of Alberta to establish the Numata Chair of Buddhist Studies Endowment of $1,000,000 at the University of Calgary.
From 1988 to 2006, the Numata Endowment sponsored international scholars who resided at the University of Calgary for one term (a four-month period) or for longer periods of up to one year to teach, to conduct research, and to give public lectures. In 2008 Dr. Leslie S. Kawamura was appointed as the first tenured Chair holder. In that role, he continued to teach, supervise graduate students, and pursue his research, as well as organize conferences and visits of Buddhist scholars to the Department.