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May 25, 2010
Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Coimbatore
Our beloved Chancellor Amma received an honorary doctorate in humane letters from the State University of New York in Buffalo (SUNY), USA.
“Through this conferral, we pay tribute to the far-reaching contributions of a distinguished educational leader, prominent humanitarian and esteemed spiritual leader,” stated Dr. John B. Simpson, SUNY President. “Through her leadership of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham as well as through her humanitarian work, Chancellor Amma exemplifies the value of international dialogue and dedicated public service in the global arena,” he added. Dr. John Simpson was joined by SUNY Trustee Eunice Lewin as they ceremonially conferred the honorary degree upon Amma. Together they respectfully draped the white and blue collar gown around Amma’s shoulders, as the distinguished audience applauded.
Chancellor Amma addressed the gathering. “At the outset, Amma expresses her heartfelt gratitude to the State University of New York and the University at Buffalo for this honor,” she stated. “Amma sees this honor as an indication of your ongoing support for the great ideal of service to humanity.” “There are two types of education,” Amma emphasized. “Education for livelihood and education for life. Education for life is spirituality.” Amma discussed the importance of including universal spiritual values in core curricula, the role of meditation in developing and gaining control over the mind and the complimentary relationship of scientific knowledge and spiritual wisdom. Read excerpts from Amma’s speech >
“There is more to society and life than the bright lights of the big cities,” Amma reminded the gathering. Unfortunately, we are forgetting this. There are also rural villages and agricultural communities. It is the people who live there that produce the fruit, vegetables and grain that feed the entire world.” “Without them, how can we continue to exist? Amma’s humble suggestion is that, as part of our institution curricula, students should spend time in such communities. We should provide them with the opportunity to observe the lives of the people who live there—their struggles and hardships.” “Students should interact with them and listen to their problems. This will provide them with insight into aspects of life that otherwise would remain concealed to them. In turn, when our students attain the success and positions of power they seek, the experiences they gained in these agricultural communities will remain with them and inform the decisions and policies they put into action.”
The event was widely reported in the international press and media. Extensive reports about the colorful ceremony were published on the SUNY website and campus newspaper. Dr. Venkat Rangan, Amrita’s Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Balakrishnan Shankar, Associate Dean, Amritapuri Campus and Mr. Shekar Babu, Chairperson, MBA-MS (dual degree program offered by Amrita and SUNY) were also in attendance. “We are most grateful that such a large delegation could join us to honor their beloved Chancellor,” Vice-Provost for International Education at SUNY, Dr. Stephen Dunnett stated in his closing remarks.
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