Alphawood Foundation, a Chicago private foundation, today announced a £20 million ($32 million) gift to SOAS, University of London (School of Oriental and African Studies) to advance the study and preservation of Buddhist and Hindu art in Southeast Asia. The largest ever gift in Alphawood Foundation’s history, the donation is also one of the largest recorded to UK higher education, especially in the field of arts and humanities.
As well as seeking to make a transformational impact to the study and preservation of Southeast Asian art, the gift is also of immense importance to SOAS. Representing 28% of SOAS’ 2012-13 turnover, Alphawood’s donation provides funding for over 80 scholarships, increases SOAS’ academic capacity with the addition of three fully endowed academic posts, and supports SOAS’ campus expansion in central London.
The greater part of the Alphawood donation, £15 million ($24 million), is to fund an ambitious academic programme that seeks to build on SOAS’ world-leading research expertise and existing institutional links in the Southeast Asia region.
Three new fully endowed academic posts will enhance SOAS’ acknowledged Asian arts expertise – the Hiram W. Woodward Chair in Southeast Asian art, the David L. Snellgrove Chair in Tibetan and Buddhist art, and a Senior Lectureship in Curating and Museology of Asian Art. These new posts will strengthen the Department of the History of Art and Archaeology and its Postgraduate Diploma in Asian Art within SOAS’ recently launched School of Arts. The scholarships will support students from Postgraduate Diploma to Doctorate level, with English language tuition and pre-course training also available at SOAS to enable students to get the most from their study and time in London.