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Tibetan Expert Joins Sanskrit Faculty

Leonard van der Kuijp Was Visiting Professor Last Fall; Popularity Among Students Cited

By Valerie J. Macmillan

Leonard van der Kuijp, who was a visiting professor at Harvard last fall, has accepted an offer of tenure and will join the department of Sanskrit and Indian studies this fall, department chair P. Oktor Skjaervo confirmed yesterday.

"I think he will be a valuable addition to the department," Skjaervo said of van der Kuijp, an expert in the language and culture of Tibet.

"He was a visiting teacher in the fall, and he was very popular with the students," Skjaervo said. "We have a relatively large group of students interested [in his classes]."

Previously, van der Kuijp was tenured at the University of Washington in 1992, where he was an associate professor of Asian languages and literature.

"We're very disappointed to see him go," said Michael C. Shapiro, the chair of Asian literature and language at the U. of Washington. "Leonard is an extremely knowledgable collegue. He has a lot of breadth in Tibetan studies."

"It's not going to be easy to find another faculty [member.] You don't find a lot of people as knowledgable as he is. It's a loss," Shapiro said.

In 1993, he was awarded a prestigious McArthur "genius" grant of $255,000 in 1993.

The John D. and Catherine T. McArthur Foundation cited for his "pioneering contributions to the study of Tibetan epistemology, biography and poetry."

According to an article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, van der Kuijp is a Dutch-born Canadian citizen who began his studies in mathematics.

In the 1993 article, he described his general interests as "intellectual history, the history of ideas."

"Tibet has played a central role in the development of Eastern Indian, Chinese and Buddhist thought and culture," van der Kuijp said.

"We all share a common world and different world views make us behave in different ways," he said.

Van der Kuijp, who will turn 43 in September, is known for his monograph, Contributions to the Development of Tibetan Buddhist Epistemology from the Eleventh to the Thirteenth Centuries (1983).

Van der Kuijp could not be reached for comment.

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