CLA Alumni and Development
Highlighting CSULB Alumni and Southern California Community
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CSU: Long Beach Appoints New Jain Studies Endowed Chair
Long Beach, California – For Immediate Release –
The Department of Religious Studies at California State University: Long Beach has appointed Dr. Shivani Bothra as assistant professor and the Bhagwan Suvidhinath Endowed Chair in Jain Studies.
Dr. Bothra’s work focuses on non-violence, modernization, and women in the Jain tradition. Jainism is an ancient religion that has three main tenants, Ahimsa (non-violence to all living beings), Apringraha (non-materialism), and Anekantavada (plurality of beliefs or open-mindedness).
The position was named after the 9th Tirthankara who, in the Jain tradition, is someone who conquered the cycle of rebirth and became a spiritual teacher to others. The creation of this position was generously funded by Dr. Jasvant Modi and the Shah Foundation on behalf of Mrs. Raksha and Mr. Harshad Shah.
Dr. Modi came to the United States from India in 1975. After a long career in gastroenterology, he retired in 2014 and now spends his time in philanthropy.
Not only does he support centers that help to provide access to food, healthcare, and education to the Jain community in Southern California, he also has donated to over 30 universities across the globe to establish endowed chairs in Jainism. In 2023, Dr. Modi was awarded the Ahimsa Day Award by the Institute of Jainology in London. The award is given annually to someone who embodies the idea of ahimsa, or nonviolence.
Inspired by his own experiences, Dr. Modi is passionate about giving to educational institutions. He cites the kindness of others providing subsidized funds and hostel stays as the reason he was able to get his own higher education in India. Dr. Modi has since helped to rebuild the hostel in which he previously stayed in order to provide housing for students, including those outside of Jainism.
Dr. Modi is a strong believer that a basis in humanities is necessary for a peaceful and prosperous world. He is hopeful that providing education about Jainism to the general public can not only raise awareness about the underrepresented religion, but to help spread the values of Jainism. When speaking on the current state of the world, Dr. Modi said he “would like to see belief in non-violence [and] if there is a difference of belief, respect other people.”
Dr. Bothra is excited about her new position and will be teaching several classes not only on Jainism, but about the role of non-violence in world religions. “The embrace of Jain Studies by the Department of Religious Studies at California State University, Long Beach is a testament to the profound impact of Jainism, standing as a formidable pillar in the study of religions. It unfolds an unparalleled philosophy, affirming the unity of humanity and underscoring the paramount importance of harmonious coexistence among all beings,” she said.
Dr. Bothra will be an invaluable addition to Long Beach’s Religious Studies department. We would like to thank Dr. Modi and look forward to supporting Dr. Bothra as she takes her place at the university.
Melissa Adams, establishing donor of The Adams International Internship Endowment
More than a decade after Blake Adams graduated CSULB in 2009, his mother felt the need to give back. Inspired by the scholarship her son received to study art in Florence, Italy and her own travel experience, Adams was inspired to establish The Adams International Internship Endowment, which allows students to help fund their internships abroad. On her motivations for donating, Adams said, “I want to provide a bridge from university classrooms to adult life that will enable students to further their education through immersive experiences in their area of study, as well as in other cultures.”
After starting her college career majoring in art, Melissa switched to English after receiving perfect scores on both the English SAT and the English Advanced Placement Exam. She graduated cum laude from UCLA in 1973 with a bachelor’s degree in English. Post-graduation, she has continued learning through workshops on creativity, writing and photography, but believes her real education has been “outside the classroom (and often my comfort zone), learning about people through travel.”
After beginning her career as a travel writer for the American Automobile Association (AAA) in 1973, Melissa worked as an advertising copywriter, public relations writer, ghostwriter, and newspaper columnist for many years. Though officially retired, she continues to freelance for numerous publications.
Inspired by her son’s travels, she moved to Amsterdam in 2010 and cites the adventure of living in a different country as key in her personal growth. “Escaping rich white bubbles in Beverly Hills and Newport Beach opened my mind to other experiences and points of view,” Melissa says, adding that a short vacation won’t provide the benefits of immersing yourself for weeks or months in another culture.
Since moving abroad, Melissa has written numerous guides about her adopted city, including 48-Hours/Amsterdam, published by National Geographic. Since 2012, she’s been the voice of “UnClogged in Amsterdam: An American Expat Plumbs the Netherlands” (www.uncloggedblog.com), a blog about all things Dutch that’s an excellent resource for travelers seeking hidden gems in the Netherlands. She has received numerous awards for her writing, including a Gold Award from the North American Travel Journalists Association.
Today, Adams is passionate about helping to bridge the gap between education and the workforce. When asked about her goals for the Endowment, Adams replied, “I hope The Adams International Internship Endowment will provide students with practical, hands-on, in-depth experiences that will help them advance their career goals, understand other cultures, and become global thinkers. Through internships in foreign countries, they’ll boost their chances for success in an interconnected world.”
The endowment will make working abroad accessible to students by helping to cover expenses like airfare. This will allow students, who typically wouldn’t be able to afford travel, new opportunities to expand their horizons. Applications will be accepted in Spring and will be reviewed for the following academic year.
Alumni Spotlight Archives
Below are a few of the current philanthropic priorities for the College.
- College of Liberal Arts Internship Program: Endow the College of Liberal Arts Internship Program to supply practical training for the largest cohort of students at the university. Pairing individual students with relevant job training in their chosen fields will give them the opportunity to earn class credit while meeting graduate requirements for many disciplines. Check out https://cla.csulb.edu/internships/
- Center for Economic Research: Endow a new center to support economic research provided by faculty to the City of Long Beach and to private entities. This center will also allow students to take part in practical research while developing ties to public and private industries that yield job opportunities. Check out https://cla.csulb.edu/departments/economics/office-of-economic-research/
- Field School and Study Abroad: Provide students with real-world experiences abroad through field work for anthropology students and other international internships. Expanded support of these programs will make them more accessible to our diverse student body.
- Global Studies Institute: Support the expansion of the Global Studies Institute by supplying funding for faculty to organize efforts that cultivate global thinking and action on and off campus. The institute supports international internships, brings diplomats and ambassadors to campus for visiting fellowships, hosts an annual lecture focusing on international and humanitarian issues, and cultivates virtual partnerships between Cal State Long Beach students and international students around the world. Check out https://cla.csulb.edu/centers/globalstudies/
- Center for Social Justice: Endow a new center that engages in social justice research and community action. This center will supply resources for faculty and students to conduct and publish research related to issues such as health disparities and equity in education and public policy. It will also help offer solutions for regional and state governments and work to create a more just and fair society.
- Lab and Classroom Support: Provide support to ensure that the thousands of students in the college’s departments and programs learn and train on the latest technology and laboratory equipment — from language labs to the Global Information System to air traffic control technology.
- Scholarship Support: Create and endow scholarships that increase access, provide opportunities, and allow students to focus, embrace and thrive in their academic careers.
Additional investment opportunities are available. To start a discussion, please contact Howie Fitzgerald, Director of Development at Howie.Fitzgerald@csulb.edu or (562)985-1619.