WBU HISTORY AND BACKGROUND
The first initiative support on establishing the World Buddhist University goes back to the late H.E. Prof. Sanya Dhammasakti, Past President of the World Fellowship of Buddhists. However, the noble initiative only came to a success after his death during the Presidency of H.E. Phan Wannmethee.
The 20th General Conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists held between October 29 and November 2, 1998, in New South Wales, Australia called for WFB Members, Regional Centres and Countries to help hasten harmony and development of Buddhism through the promotion of Buddhist studies so as to co-ordinate with the Buddhist universities and other academic institutions which offer studies of Buddhism and related subjects all over the world in the fields of research, training, Buddhist practice and education based on Buddhism. The idea led to establishment of the WBU in December BE 2543/CE 2000. The establishment of the WBU was acknowledged and permitted by the Thai Cabinet on the Royal Thai Cabinet Meeting dated November 27, BE 2543/CE 2000.
The WBU was founded as a tribute to the celebration of the 84th birthday anniversary (3 October BE 2540/CE 1997) of His Holiness Somdet Phra Nyanasamvara, the 19th Supreme Patriarch of the Kingdom of Thailand, and the Supreme Ecclesiastical Patron of the World Fellowship of Buddhist.* Moreover, His Holiness had played an active role in promoting Buddhism at both national and international levels.
Moreover, WBU is regarded as an outstanding achievement of the WFB as a symbol of commemorating the Golden Jubilee of the WFB.
The first WBU Council in 9 December BE 2543/CE 2000, Most Venerable Phra Dhammapitaka (P.A. Payutto)** was appointed as the first Chairperson of the WBU Council. Dr Ananda W.P. Guruge as a Vice Chairperson of America, Europe, and Oceania and Mr Chamnong Tongpraset as a Vice Chairperson of Asia and Africa whereas Mr Noranit Setabutr as the University’s first Rector, were appointed.
On 9 December BE 2543/CE 2000, a formal inauguration ceremony for the University was held at the WFB headquarters building in Bangkok. The ceremony was presided over by His Holiness Somdet Phra Nyanasamvara, the 19th Supreme Patriarch of Kingdom of Thailand and His Excellency Dr. Vichai Tunsiri, Deputy Minister for Education of Thailand. The establishment of the WBU was successful with a full dedication of H.E. Phan Wannmetthee, the current president of the WFB.
It was then that WBU’s first priority programme areas began to focus on developing its partnerships through the creation of networking systems which will ensure that Buddhist scholars and institutions engaged in research, training, Buddhist practice, Buddhist education and the dissemination of the Dhamma can work together and make positive contributions to securing happiness among sentient beings and sustaining world peace.
Since official commencement of its academic activities in BE 2543/CE 2000, WBU has worked to live up to its role as a virtual international Buddhist university by expanding partnership with academic institutions around the world. During the tenure of the University’s second Rector, Dr. Nantasarn Seesalab and the third Rector, Prof. Naranit Setabutr the academic activities were expanded even wider with many academic meetings in various WFB regional centres and academic institutions.
In the beginning of its establishment, WBU had very small financial budget by donation alone. Later, from BE 2551/CE 2008, National Office of Buddhism under the Royal Thai Government supports a small amount of annual budget for operating activities of WBU. To be exact, the National Office of Buddhism supports 5 million Baht annually.
During the tenure the immediate past Rector, Prof. Naranit Setabutr, took steps (including some amendment of the WBU Charter) to provide the University with the ability to expand work easier and efficiently.
WBU will continue to extend the scope of its global institutional network and build on its list of academic collaborations in order to facilitate members of the WFB and general public equipped with a truly international mindset and the Buddhist knowledge necessary to address the pressing issues currently faced by the international community.
* Ref. Article 5 of WFB Constitution
** Currently Somdet Phra Buddhaghosacariya, member of the Supreme Sangha Council of Thailand