University of Houston receives $2 million to support study of Tamil language and culture

HOUSTON, Oct 1, 2019- A Gift agreement was signed on October 1st 2019 to Establish Endowment for Research, Endowed Professorship to support study of Tamil language and culture.

A Texas nonprofit organization with a mission to promote Tamil language, culture and literature has made a $2 million commitment to the University of Houston to establish an endowment supporting the study of Tamil heritage. The Tamil language is considered the oldest in the world — spoken by more than 70 million people worldwide — primarily in India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore.

Houston Tamil Studies Chair, Inc., (HTSC) which is the donor, is a nonprofit that was founded in 2019 with the goal of establishing the Tamil studies chair at the University of Houston and providing a forum for the growing population of Tamil-Americans in the United States — approximately 250,000 people.

Dr. Renu Khator, Chancellor, UH System spoke about the long term relationship between UH and HTSC’s board members. Sockalingam Sam Kannappan spoke that Kaniyan Pungundranar’s poem starts with the lines of “Yaadhum Oore Yavarum Kelir” speaks about unity. Indian Prime Minister Modi ji spoke about these lines in the United Nations Organization on September 27th 2019. Dr. S.G Appan talked about achievements of Tamil Americans. Tupil Narasiman presented the financial status of HTSC.

The initial $1 million pledge will create The Houston Tamil Studies Chair, Inc. Research Endowment in the UH College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. These funds will support research program costs, equipment and seminars with invited scholars who are experts on Tamil societies and the Tamil diaspora in the United States.

The donor will later pledge an additional $1 million and the endowment will be renamed The Houston Tamil Studies Chair Inc. Endowed Professorship. The educator who will hold this professorship will be a global research trailblazer with expertise on the rich diversity of Tamil culture and its global diaspora, according to Antonio D. Tillis, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.

“This gift serves as a new resource for global research opportunities for our faculty and students,” said Tillis. “It affords expanding knowledge on a region that has interdisciplinary academic appeal with local and global contexts.”

Houston Tamil Studies Chair Inc. was established through the vision of its founding members Sockalingam Sam Kannappan; Dr. S.G. Appan; Sockalingam Narayanan; Perumal Annamalai; Dr. Nagamanickam Ganesan; Tupil V Narasiman and Dr. Thiruvengadam Arumugam. They have been leading community fundraising efforts in the Greater Houston area, Texas and beyond.

“Tamil has a rich social and political history. Through exploring Tamil traditions, we are facilitating understanding of a special and unique culture,” said Eloise Brice, vice president for University Advancement.

According to Dr. S.G Appan “As Tamil-American families assimilate into the fabric of the multi-cultural society in this great Nation, and as all our children get educated in American Universities, HTSC takes great pride in leading this initiative to expand awareness of the rich Tamil culture, language and literature within an educational setting.”

Dr. Naga Ganesan says “Tamil, one of the two classical languages of India along with Sanskrit, is vibrant and growing in American culture scape. We are proud to endow a professorship at University of Houston to study Tamil in all its aspects across the globe.”--- End