News at Tipitaka Network
University plans to expand course offerings
By Fred Ortega, Staff Writer, SGV Tribune, Thursday, August 17, 2006
ROSEMEAD, Los Angeles (California) Roger Schmidt has big plans for the University of the West.
Schmidt, 75, was appointed last week as interim president of the small university, which was founded by Buddhist monks in 1991 on South Walnut Grove Avenue. He takes over for Lewis Lancaster, who stepped down from his two-year tenure as president to pursue retirement and continue translating Buddhist texts.
Schmidt is stepping into the president's seat as the school begins what may be the most significant period of growth in its short history. Having just been accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges in February, the college's board is mounting a campaign to expand student enrollment from 300 to 1,000 per semester within the next five years.
"The board is ready to make a major commitment," said Schmidt, who served as dean of academic affairs at the university from its founding until 2001 and also taught religion at the school. "One of my roles will be to fill staffing positions and expand the staff, in terms of academics, student services, marketing and student recruitment."
In order to aid student recruitment, plans are under way to expand the university's four departments and degree options. The university now has business, religious studies, language and humanities departments offering 21 bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees and certificates.
"We are looking to start a new education major, which we hope to have accredited later this year, and we are also working on a Buddhist chaplain program," said Jason Kosareff, a student recruiter at the university.
Investment is another area targeted for growth, Kosareff said. The university was started by Master Hsing Yun, founder of the Hsi Li Buddhist Temple, the largest temple system in the Western Hemisphere. It is funded by $5 contributions by temple devotees, which bring in an estimated $5.4 million a year, Kosareff said.
Most of the university's enrollment is comprised of monastics and secular students from throughout Asia. But with the recent accreditation and the securing of federal financial aid, Kosareff said the school hopes to attract more Westerners. The yearly annual cost for an undergraduate degree is about $8,700.
In the meantime, the school's small size has its advantages, said Ziv Chen, 29, a master's in business administration student from Taiwan.
"It is easier to make the transition as a foreign student at a smaller campus," said Chen, who lives in Alhambra. "It is much easier to get around than at a larger school like UCLA."
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