From the Department of Religious Studies, University of Calgary
Dr. Leslie Kawamura 1935 – 2011
We are very sad to announce the passing of Dr. Leslie Kawamura, Professor of Religious Studies and Holder of the Numata Chair in Buddhist Studies, on March 10, 2011. He will be dearly missed.
We mourn the passing on March 10, 2011 of our esteemed colleague and dear friend, Leslie Kawamura.
Leslie Sumio Kawamura came to the brand new Department of Religious Studies at the University of Calgary in 1976, introducing Asian religions to the program of study. He brought with him impressive credentials, including an M.A in Buddhist History from Ryukoku University (Kyoto), an M.A. in Buddhist Philosophy from Kyoto University, and a Ph.D. in Far Eastern Studies from the University of Saskatchewan. He rose quickly to the rank of Full Professor (1983) and served as Department Head from 1983-88. He was instrumental in securing funds to establish the endowed Numata Chair in Buddhist Studies at the University of Calgary, which brought fifteen visiting scholars to the Department of Religious Studies between 1988 and 2006. In 2008, Leslie was named 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.
Professor Kawamura was a world-renowned expert in Yogacara Buddhism. His publications include ten books, numerous articles, and presentations at universities throughout Canada, the United States, China, and Japan. He also contributed to the founding of various international scholarly organizations, such as the Canada Mongolia Society (1974), the International Association for Buddhist Studies (1977), The North American Association for Buddhist Studies (1977), The Society for Tibetan Studies in Alberta (1981), the International Association of Shin Buddhist Studies (1982), and the Buddhist Section of the American Academy of Religions, all of which seek to promote the study of Buddhism and Asian cultures in the academy.
Two awards bestowed upon him in recent years paid tribute to his many contributions to the University of Calgary. In 2004, he received the President’s Award for Internationalization, which acknowledged the key role he played in establishing the study of Asian cultures in programs throughout the University, including within the undergraduate and graduate programs of Religious Studies, the B.A. in East Asian Studies, and the South Asian and East Asian Studies minor programs. In 2010, he was inducted into the Order of the University of Calgary, an honour that recognizes exemplary and distinguished service to the University.
The work that Leslie did for the Department, the University, and for the field of Buddhist Studies will live on for a very long time. He graced the Department and the University with his energetic and smiling presence for thirty-five years. His colleagues and his students will feel his absence acutely.
Virginia Tumasz, Head, Department of Religious Studies
Professor Kawamura was an inspiration to my son and daughter-in-law, and to me. A guide and mentor to many, he will be sadly missed.