Naropa Appoints Renowned Buddhist Scholar to Board of Trustees

BOULDER, Colo. (May 11, 2011) -- Naropa University is proud to announce the appointment of Janice Willis, PhD, Professor of Religion at Wesleyan University to its board of trustees.


Dr. Willis is one of the earliest American scholar-practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism, and has published numerous essays and articles on Buddhist meditation, hagiography, women and Buddhism, and Buddhism and race. She has taught courses in Buddhism at Wesleyan since 1977.

Time magazine named Dr. Willis one of six "spiritual innovators for the new millennium", Ebony called her one of its "Power 150" most influential African-Americans, and she was profiled in a 2005 Newsweek article about "Spirituality in America".

With her lifelong dedication to education, Dr. Willis' appointment further strengthens the academic backbone of Naropa's board. Her expertise will add greatly to the implementation of the university's academic plan and recently awarded Title III grant.

"Our board of trustees is delighted to welcome Dr. Willis as a new colleague. Jan brings a wealth of academic experience, a deep spiritual practice and an inspiring understanding of Naropa's mission and values. As an Excellence in Teaching award winner at Wesleyan University, Jan will also enhance the board's work with our own skilled and dedicated faculty," said Chuck Lief, chair of the board of trustees.

President Stuart Lord added, "Her commitment to teaching and learning as one of the earliest American scholars and practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism, gifts us with an incomparable depth of wisdom and experience. We are thrilled and honored that she has committed her time, energy and spirit to the advancement and evolution of Naropa University."

Dr. Willis first visited the university as a featured speaker at the Lenz Foundation Buddhist Leadership Conference held in 2009. Her latest book was Dreaming Me: An African American Woman's Spiritual Journey (2001). Dr. Willis is also the author of The Diamond Light: An Introduction to Tibetan Buddhist Meditation (1972), On Knowing Reality: The Tattvartha Chapter of Asanga's Bodhisattvabhumi (1979), Enlightened Beings: Life Stories from the Ganden Oral Tradition (1995); and the editor of Feminine Ground: Essays on Women and Tibet (1989). She has studied with Tibetan Buddhists in India, Nepal, Switzerland and the U.S. for four decades, and has taught courses in Buddhism for 32 years.

Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Naropa University is a private, nonprofit, nonsectarian liberal arts institution dedicated to advancing contemplative education. This approach to learning integrates the best of Eastern and Western educational traditions, helping students know themselves more deeply and engage constructively with others. The university comprises a four-year undergraduate college and graduate programs in the arts, education, environmental leadership, psychology and religious studies.

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