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DALAI LAMA PLANNING VISIT TO UB
TIBETAN SPIRITUAL LEADER'S SEPTEMBER 2006 TRIP WILL BE HIS FIRST VISIT TO WESTERN NEW YORK

The Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of the Tibetan people and Tibet's exiled head of state, will come to the University at Buffalo next year during one of his rare visits to the United States.

One of the most recognizable and closely watched figures in the world, he will make his first visit to Western New York on Sept. 21 and 22, 2006.

The Dalai Lama is expected to deliver an address as part of UB's Distinguished Speakers Series, teach students in small classroom sessions and lead an interfaith religious service on campus.

University and community representatives still must work out many of the complex security and logistical details for the trip, which has been years in the making. UB officials say the visit is sure to draw international attention.

"We're thrilled. To have the Dalai Lama come to our campus is something we've been talking about and dreaming about (for years)," said Stephen C. Dunnett, UB vice provost for international education.

Formally known as His Holiness the Dalai Lama, he is spiritual leader of Tibet's Buddhist community, and his worldwide following includes celebrities such as actor Richard Gere.

He attracts throngs to his appearances, which included a visit last summer to the University of Toronto, where he met privately with a UB delegation.

"He made a very deep impression on me," Dunnett said.

The university worked for years to cultivate a relationship with the Dalai Lama and his aides, emphasizing the school's proximity to the Canadian border and its diverse student body.

UB has about 3,400 international students, including 2,200 from Asia. Four Tibetan students on Fulbright grants study at UB.

"For a globally focused university like UB, it is impossible to quantify the significance of the opportunity to learn . . . firsthand from such an eminent and esteemed world leader," UB President John B. Simpson said in a statement Wednesday.

The Dalai Lama accepted UB's invitation at the Toronto meeting, but the visit was not confirmed until Dunnett and William J. Regan, UB's director of conferences and special events, traveled last month to Tibet's unofficial embassy in New York City.

There are political sensitivities to the visit. The Chinese government considers Tibet to be part of China, but the Dalai Lama argues for greater cultural and religious autonomy for Tibet.

Dunnett emphasized that UB is inviting the Dalai Lama as a religious leader and an educator.

Planning for the visit will be extensive, even when compared with appearances at UB made by Bill Clinton and other former presidents, Regan said.

In lieu of the fee UB typically pays a speaker, the university is making a donation to a scholarship fund for Tibetan students who study in America. UB will provide updated information on obtaining tickets to the public lecture on a Web site, www.
specialevents.buffalo.edu.

e-mail: swatson@buffnews.com

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