The University of Houston Oct. 1 announced the signing of a gift agreement to establish endowment for research and an endowed professorship to support the study of the Tamil language and culture.
The Texas Indian American nonprofit organization with a mission to promote Tamil language, culture and literature, Houston Tamil Studies Chair Inc., has made a $2 million commitment to the university 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, the release said.
The nonprofit 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.
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 release said.
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, it said.
“This gift serves as a new resource for global research opportunities for our faculty and students,” said Antonio D. Tillis, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. “It affords expanding knowledge on a region that has interdisciplinary academic appeal with local and global contexts.”
The Houston Tamil Studies Chair Inc. was established through the vision of its founding members, Indian Americans 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, the release added.
“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 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 said, “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.”