Jan Willis is a Professor of Religion at Wesleyan University. 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 millenium"; 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."
Dr. Willis first visited the university as a featured speaker at the Lenz Foundation Buddhist Leadership Conference held in 2009. She is the author of several books, including Dreaming Me: An African American Woman’s Spiritual Journey (2001), The Diamond Light: An Introduction to Tibetan Buddhist Meditation(1972), On Knowing Reality: The Tattvartha Chapter of Asanga’s Bodhisattvabhumi (1979), and Enlightened Beings: Life Stories from the Ganden Oral Tradition (1995). Dr. Willis is 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.