There won't be a commencement procession today at the Hindu University of
America, and for good reason: Faculty members would far outnumber the
students. Well, make that "student," begins this article. Just two degrees
will be awarded at the Orlando campus--masters in Hinduism and Vedic
astrology--and only one of the graduates, Jessica Sayles, plans to attend.
Still, there will be an invocation.
A ceremonial Hindu lamp will be lighted, and university officials and
invited guests will speak. In a verse from Hinduism's sacred writings,
university officials will ask Sarasvati, the Goddess of learning and wisdom,
to bless the university.
Today's ceremonies include not just the 2-year-old school's first
graduation but a dedication of its first new, permanent structures. The new
structures, part of the university's first phase of development, add 5,000
square feet of modular classrooms and offices.
A two-story administrative building is next on the schedule. The faculty
has grown to four full-time and 18 adjunct professors, and an administrative
staff of four. Soon after moving to its 10-acre site in 2002, a neighbor
donated an adjoining 2.5 acres.
"This is an item of pride for the local Hindu community and all over the
country," says K.C. Gupta, the university president and former professor of
electrical engineering at the University of Colorado.
Leaders of Central Florida's Hindu community of 7,000 agree. "Our community
is growing, and it will help us create an awareness of the Hindu religion and
philosophy and teachings," says Dr. Aravind Pillai, chairman of the Hindu
Society of Central Florida. "It will help us tell the world exactly what we
Courses--both credit and non-credit--range from yoga classes to Sanskrit
language study. They are taught on the campus and online; some yoga classes
are taught at Valencia Community College's east campus. The full-and part-time
student body consists of 15 Orlando students and more than 45 others
throughout the United States and India. More information is on the university
HINDU UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA