SAN FRANCISCO, CA – The Haridas Chaudhuri Endowed Chair in Indian Philosophy and Culture was established at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) here recently at a gathering of invited faculty, trustees and patrons at the home of CIIS trustee Dr. Ricky Pollycove. The idea of the chair was founded...
In 1950, Louis Gainsborough, a successful San Francisco entrepreneur and philanthropist, invited Stanford University Professor of Indic and Slavic Studies, Dr. Frederick Spiegelberg to direct an academy where scholarship in Asian philosophies and cultures could be promoted. Spiegelberg, who had ‘a transforming experience’ in India after a ‘darshan’ with the philosopher-yogi Sri Aurobindo, wrote to the latter requesting that he recommend an authority in Indian philosophy and yoga who was also conversant with western philosophy and psychology. Sri Aurobindo recommended Dr. Haridas Chaudhuri, then chairman of the Department of Philosophy in Krishnanagar College in Bengal, India. In 1951, Spiegelberg brought together Dr. Chaudhuri, Alan Watts and a number of scholars from India, Tibet and Japan, to start the Academy of Asian Studies in San Francisco.
In 1968, Dr. Chaudhuri, aided by his wife, Bina, founded the California Institute of Asian Studies and in 1974 CIAS was incorporated as a private, non-profit graduate school. After Dr. Chaudhuri’s untimely passing in 1975, his wife Bina, along with dedicated staff, faculty and students, continued the work of the institution. In 1980, the institute changed its name to the California Institute of Integral Studies , to represent its further expanded scope, inclusive of world culture, philosophy, psychology and counseling. In 1981, CIIS achieved regional accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
At present, the leadership of CIIS’ sixth President, Joseph Subbiondo has brought about what is often referred to as “the new Institute.” The student population has grown to over 1,500 pursuing 20 academic degree programs, mostly graduate, in four schools: Consciousness and Transformation, Professional Psychology and Health, Undergraduate Studies, and per its merger with CIIS in July 2015, the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine. CIIS’ full-time faculty, many of them pioneers in their fields, number 60; its alumni base is over 7,000.
CIIS annual budget is over $26 million with nearly $2 million of it dedicated to scholarships. CIIS hosts 12 clinics including six mental health counseling centers and six acupuncture clinics serving thousands of Bay Area residents each year at free or discounted rates. It also has a vibrant Public Programs with over 12,000 people attending its concerts, lectures and workshops each year as well as an exciting art exhibition program in the Desai Matta Gallery. Without becoming embroiled in identity politics or religious chauvinism, CIIS continues to forge a community of scholarship at the service of an ongoing evolution of the human spirit.