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University of the West (commonly known as UWest) is a private, not-for-profit, university located in Rosemead, California. It was founded in 1990[1] by Venerable Master Hsing Yun,[2] founder of the Taiwan-based Buddhist order Fo Guang Shan[2] and Hsi Lai Temple,[2] the North American order headquarters. The school offered its first class in spring of 1991.

University of the West
University of the West logo.png
AffiliationFo Guang Shan
PresidentOtto H. Chang, Ph.D., CPA
Students383 (Fall 2017)
1409 Walnut Grove Ave
Rosemead, CA 91770
, , ,
United States
Campus10 acres (4 ha)
AffiliationsWestern Association of Schools and Colleges

UWest is a private, non profit, non-sectarian university[3] accredited by WASC Senior College and University Commission since 2006 as an undergraduate and advanced degree-granting institution.[3] Although founded by a Buddhist organization, UWest is not a Buddhist college.[4] UWest students are not required to subscribe to the Buddhist faith or practice Buddhism in any form. Indeed, UWest's undergraduate and graduate programs in business administration garner higher enrollment numbers than its undergraduate and graduate programs in religious studies.



View of campus

University of the West, originally incorporated as Hsi Lai University, (Chinese: 西來大學; pinyin: Xi lái dà xué) started in a small classroom in Hsi Lai Temple, the North American head branch of the Fo Guang Shan order. In its first semester (1991) the school had only four professors and a student body of around 30 students made up of monks and nuns from the temple. Early instructors were Dr. Roger Schmidt, Dr. Dan Lusthaus, Dr. Jim Santucci (now chair of the Department of Comparative Religion at California State University, Fullerton), and Dr. Lewis Lancaster, an eminent Western scholar of Buddhism, a former UWest president and now Chair Emeritus at University of California, Berkeley. Over the years, each of those original professors has returned to the UWest campus to teach or act in administrative roles (or both).

In 1996, Fo Guang Shan purchased a property at 1409 Walnut Grove Ave. in Rosemead, California, a multicultural suburb of the San Gabriel Valley, approximately ten miles east of downtown Los Angeles. The campus belonged to Biola University at the time and was the site of Biola's seminary school. According to Dr. Jim Chen, a UWest professor of accounting and one of the original negotiators of the property purchase, the Christian-based Biola organization was reluctant to sell the property to a Buddhist organization. After a tussle, the property was successfully purchased.

At that time, the university decided to pursue accreditation while also adding additional programs to its offerings. Undergraduate and advanced degrees in business, English, psychology, philosophy, Chinese language, Buddhist chaplaincy, and religious studies were added. An English as a Second Language program was also established, given the international character of students attracted to the school. The degree programs in history, philosophy, Chinese language, and the bachelor of arts in Buddhist studies, are no longer offered, however, they remain accredited should the university revisit them in the future.

The accreditation process took approximately 10 years to complete, with former dean of academic affairs and noted Buddhist scholar Dr. Ananda Guruge steering the drive for WASC recognition. Accreditation was granted in February, 2006.[5] Shortly thereafter a drive to attract American students to the campus was initiated. As of 2014, approximately 40% of the student body are American citizens or permanent residents.

Board of trusteesEdit

Overall governance of the university lies in the hands of its 15-member board of trustees. The trustees select the president, oversee all faculty and senior administrative appointments, monitor the budget, supervise the endowment, and protect university property.

By-laws of the trusteesEdit

The by-laws of the trustees specify the rules by which the trustees operate. The by-laws set the schedule of trustee meetings. The role and powers of the trustees’ standing committees are stated in the by-laws.

Presidents of University of the WestEdit

Dr. Otto Chang was named president of University of the West in 2018.

Dr. Chang is an accounting and business educator with specialty in several areas, including taxation, management and international accounting, business ethics and philosophy, corporate governance, and social responsibility. Born in Taiwan, Dr. Chang attended National Taiwan University, receiving a bachelor's degree in economics. He came to University of Illinois in 1978 to complete his Master and Ph.D. degrees in accountancy. He taught at the University of Wyoming, Texas Christian University, and California State University at San Bernardino (CSUSB). He was the chair of the Department of Accounting and Finance, the associate dean for administrative affairs at CSUSB, and the Paul E. Shaffer Professor of Accounting and the dean of Doermer School of Business at the Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.

Past presidents include:

  • Hsing Yun (1990–1998)
  • Dr. Naichen Chen (1998–2004)
  • Dr. Lewis Lancaster (2004–2006)
  • Roger Schmidt (2004–2007)
  • Dr. Allen Huang (2007–2009)
  • Chack-Fan Lee (2009–2010)
  • Dr. Chin-Shun Wu (2010–2013)
  • Dr. Stephen Morgan (2013–2018)

Dr. Stephen Morgan was president and professor of higher education emeritus at the University of La Verne in southern California. Dr. Morgan served as president of the University of La Verne for twenty-six years, retiring from that position in 2011. Prior to the presidency, Dr. Morgan served as executive director of the Independent Colleges of Northern California (1979–1985), director of Development at the University of Southern California (1976–1979) and in a variety of positions, including vice president for Development, at the University of La Verne (1968–1976). Dr. Morgan is a former member and vice chair of the Senior Accrediting Commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and has served as the chair of numerous accreditation teams throughout California. He also served for more than twenty years on the executive committee of the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities and is a former chair of that statewide organization. Dr. Morgan served as a director of the Independent Colleges of Southern California. During his presidency, Dr. Morgan was recognized by the Western Region of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education as the CEO of The Year. In addition to his professional memberships, Dr. Morgan has been an active leader in the southern California community. He served as a director and chair of the board of the Los Angeles County Fair Association, director and chair of the board of the Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center and director and chair of the board of the LeRoy Haynes Children's Center. Dr. Morgan currently serves as a director of Bright Prospect, an organization that prepares first-generation and minority students for college, and he serves as a director and chair of the Board of My Own Business, Inc., a not-for-profit organization that offers training for those who wish to start their own business. Dr. Morgan is a director and chair of the Board of Hillcrest, a full-service retirement community serving more than four hundred residents in La Verne, California. Dr. Morgan earned a B.A from the University of La Verne, an M.S from the University of Southern California and an Ed.D. from the University of Northern Colorado.


The mission of University of the West is to provide a whole-person education in a context informed by Buddhist wisdom and values, and to facilitate cultural understanding and appreciation between East and West.[6]

Academic programsEdit

UWest currently offers degrees in the following majors:

Department of Business Administration:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration – with concentrations in Marketing; Accounting; Computer Information Systems; and International Business.
  • Master of Business Administration – with concentrations in Computer Information Systems; International Business; Finance; and Nonprofit Organization Management.

Department of Religious Studies:

  • Master of Arts in Religious Studies - with optional concentrations in Buddhist Texts & Translation; Humanistic Buddhism; Mindfulness, Meditation, & Mind
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Religious Studies - with emphasis in Comparative Religious Studies and Buddhist Studies.

Department of Buddhist Chaplaincy:

  • Master of Divinity in Buddhist Chaplaincy
  • Doctor of Buddhist Ministry

Department of English:

  • Bachelor of Arts in English
  • TESOL Certificate - A program that trains students to teach English as a second or foreign language and is open to non-degree seeking students, as well as degree-seeking students in any UWest major.
  • UWest also offers language instruction in areas other than English, including classical languages such as Sanskrit, Pali, Classical Chinese, and Tibetan, as well as Mandarin Chinese and Japanese.

Department of Psychology:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
  • Master of Arts in Psychology - aligned to California Board of Behavioral Sciences requirements for MFT licensure

Department of Liberal Arts:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts - with student-developed concentrations

English Learning Institute (ELI):

  • English as a Second Language (ESL) program - A certificate program designed to prepare speakers of English as a Second Language for college-level English skills. While conversational English is taught in the program, the focus is on preparation for college-level academics taught in English.

Academic English Bridge Program:

  • An English remediation program for students above ESL, but not quite ready for college-level English.

Program for American Cultural Exchange (PACE):

  • Short-term programs for international visitors, typically focusing on English-language training and/or the development of American business knowledge and skills.

Open Enrollment:

  • Individuals not interested in enrolling in a degree program may take courses under open enrollment, including undergraduate- and graduate-level study.


UWest enrollment stood at 383 students as of the fall 2017 semester. The campus has seen a significant growth in population since accreditation in 2006. The student body is approximately 50% international and 50% domestic. Aside from U.S. students, the student body is made up of students from more than 44 countries.

Research centersEdit

  • The Center for the Study of Minority and Small Business (CSMSB)
  • Institute for Chinese Buddhist Studies[7]
  • Digital Sanskrit Buddhist Canon[8]


UWest was accredited in February, 2006, by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)[1]. The university has a membership status in the WASC. This means that the degrees and courses currently supported by the university will transfer to other universities with regional or national accreditation.

Financial aidEdit

UWest is authorized by the U.S. Department of Education to disburse federal financial aid. Other financial aid options include the Stafford Loan, Plus Loan, Pell Grants, Perkins Loan Program, etc. UWest also offers institutional financial aid, such as scholarships, tuition waivers and work study positions to those who qualify. UWest is home to the Lotus Scholarship, which awards up to $10,000.


University of the West consists of three main buildings, two residence halls and an auditorium on an 10-acre (4.0 ha), hilltop campus.

The lower floor of the administration building offers services such as financial aid, admissions, student accounts, registrar etc. The upper floor features classrooms, an investment lab for business students, and the offices of the president. The administration building underwent a major modernization from 2003 to 2012.

The three-story education building houses the library, student services, Kenneth A. Locke Hall, IT services, classrooms, academic departments, professors' offices, and the Student Success Center. The building was modernized in 2003–2012.

The recreation building at the top of the campus hosts the dining hall, recreation game room, and student kitchen.

Other facilities include pool and spa, gym, and basketball court.

Notable faculty and alumniEdit

Fo Guang Shan UniversitiesEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Welcome to the University of the West". Archived from the original on 2010-11-24. Retrieved 2010-10-19.
  2. ^ a b c "Our Founder". Archived from the original on 2010-10-27. Retrieved 2010-10-19.
  3. ^ a b "Mission Statement". Archived from the original on 2010-06-12. Retrieved 2010-10-19.
  4. ^ "University of the West 2018-2019 Academic Catalog" (PDF). University of the West. p. 9. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  5. ^ "WASC Senior College and University Commission, Statement of Accreditation Status-University of the West". WASC Senior College and University Commission. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  6. ^ "University of the West 2018-2019 Academic Catalog" (PDF). University of the West. p. 10. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  7. ^ University of the West. "Institute of Chinese Buddhist Studies". Retrieved 6 April 2013.
  8. ^ University of the West. "Digital Sanskrit Buddhist Canon". Retrieved 6 April 2013.

External linksEdit