University of Colorado Denver Proud Recipient of $500,000 Gift to Fund Endowed Professorship in Jain Studies

The position will further CU Denver’s goal of becoming an equity-serving institution

February 3, 2022

The University of Colorado Denver has received a generous gift of $500,000 from donors in the Jain community to establish the “Bhagwan Suparshvanatha Endowed Professorship Fund in Jain Studies” to create and support a faculty professorship focused on the teaching and study of the Jain religion in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS).  

The endowed professorship represents a powerful partnership between CU Denver and the Jain community and aligns with the university’s goal to be officially recognized as an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution (AANAPISI) and the 2030 Strategic Plan goal of becoming an equity-serving institution. The endowed professorship fund donors include Sulekh C. Jain, PhD, Jasvant Modi, MD, Trustee, Vardhamana Charitable Foundation, Ramesh Parmar, Parmar Family Endowment, and Harshad Shah, Trustee, Shah Foundation, and Jagdish N. Sheth, PhD.  

“We are so excited in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to have the opportunity to develop this endowed professorship,” says CLAS Dean Pamela Jansma, PhD. “Partnerships like this help keep our curriculum innovative and relevant and give our students new ways to become better educated global citizens.”  

The new position is dedicated to creating and offering courses in the fundamental principles of Jainism including nonviolence, non-attachment/non possessiveness, and plurality of views and beliefs to examine their relevance and implications in modern society. It will open as a visiting faculty position in fall 2022. The search for a permanent, tenured-track level professorship will begin in fall 2022.  

“Bringing Jain studies in is a way for us to incorporate important ethics relevant to our contemporary world across our curriculum, particularly for students who are doing interdisciplinary work,” says Alison Shah, PhD, director of religious studies.    

The endowed professorship will develop and offer undergrad- and graduate-level courses in Jain studies, introduce students to the history, culture, philosophy, and art of the Jain religion, and engage the broader community, including the Jain community in North America. The professorship will aim to engage students in applying the practical significance of underlying Jain principles to foster enduring peace, social harmony, and ecological sustainability.  

Jainism, one of the oldest religions of the world, has made a great contribution to Indian thought, having enriched the spiritual, religious, philosophical, ethical, literary, cultural, iconographic, philanthropic, and architectural aspects of Premodern India. Among the world’s great religions, Jainism has made the striving for peace, tolerance, and ecology priorities. Jainism flourishes in contemporary India as well as in global environments, including 35 countries where significant Jain diaspora populations are settled since the beginning of the 20th century. 

On Feb. 24, CLAS will host a Zoom celebration with Jansma, Alison Shah, faculty who contribute to religious studies classes, the endowed professorship donors, members of the local Jain community, a representative of the Uberoi Foundation for Religious Studies, and other invited university and community guests. The event is open to the public. Click here to register.