The Dalai Lama has offered $100,000 to help an imperiled religion department at a Florida university after receiving an e-mailed plea for a letter of support from a longtime acquaintance on the faculty.
"He responded with this astounding, astounding offer," said Nathan Katz, a professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Florida International University. "I fell off my chair."
The department is one of three at FIU slated to close in response to a $27 million cut in state funding to the public university.
Katz said he e-mailed the Dalai Lama's office last month after finding out the programme was in jeopardy and asked for a letter of support.
FIU received a letter from the Dalai Lama's office this week offering $100,000 and his help fundraising to prevent the planned closure of the department.
"In our deeply interconnected world, understanding and appreciation of diversity of religions is critical in fostering a culture of genuine tolerance and peaceful coexistence," read the letter from a secretary to the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Buddhist leader who has spent 50 years in exile after a failed uprising to oust Chinese rulers.