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June 5, 2007 > Sikh, Punjabi endowment established

Sikh, Punjabi endowment established

Submitted By Barry Zepel

A partnership between the Sikh community and California State University, East Bay is creating the Dr. Ranjit Singh Sabharwal Chair in Sikh and Punjabi Studies, the first endowed chair of its kind in the CSU system.

Professor Sabharwal, who passed away July 23, 2006 at age 81, was a leader in the East Bay Sikh community and at the university, where he taught mathematics since 1968. The chair is named in his honor and carries out his dream of forging a relationship between the Sikh community and the university he served for four decades.

"I'm very proud to be part of this collaboration between our university and the Sikh community in creating the endowed chair in Sikh and Punjabi studies," said CSUEB President Mohammad H. Qayoumi. "Not only are we creating an important cultural and academic resource, but we're also honoring Dr. Sabharwal, who for so many years was a beloved member of this university."

Sabharwal was instrumental in founding the Sikh temples in Fremont and Hayward and watched them thrive as the Bay Area Sikh community grew from 20 families in the 1960s to more than 20,000 families.

"My father was always community-minded and also keen that we maintain support for education as well," said his son, Paul Sabharwal. "He used to say that 'the university is the temple of education.'"

In 2003, the professor endowed the Sabharwal Family Scholarship Fund for CSUEB mathematics students. But that was just the beginning of his plans to connect the Sikh community with higher education. As a way to preserve Sikh and Punjabi traditions for future generations and to further understanding among non-Indians, Sabharwal dreamed of endowing a chair at CSUEB to explore the language, culture, politics and religion of his homeland.

"I want to thank the Sabharwal family, the Sikh Foundation and all the generous contributors who are carrying forward Dr. Sabharwal's dream of creating this endowed chair," President Qayoumi said. "He believed that such a sharing of knowledge and language could only further understanding and peace. We are all dedicated to achieving those noble goals."

The College of Letters, Arts and Social Studies will begin recruiting for a professor to fill the endowed chair in the next academic year, said interim Dean Benjamin Bowser. The college will begin offering interdisciplinary courses in 2008 once a professor has been hired and a curriculum established.

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