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Dalai Lama Offers Donation to Save Religion Department at US University

Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, has offered to donate $100,000 to help save the religious studies program at Florida International University.

The religious studies department is slated to be shut down as part of $27 million in budget cuts. Closing it would save the university about $600,000 a year. The university is located in Miami, Florida.

In a letter to the university president Modesto Maidique, the Dalai Lama said that "understanding and appreciation of diversity of religions is critical in fostering a culture of genuine tolerance and peaceful existence." He said if the department were to close down, it would "not be easy to rebuild it."

Florida International University religious studies professor Nathan Katz said he is astounded by the Dalai Lama's offer and that the university will accept the donation.

The Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader's donation would not be enough to save the religious studies program. But the Dalai Lama also has offered to help raise additional funds.

The Dalai Lama received an honorary doctorate of divinity from the Florida school in 1999. He visited it again in 2004.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.