A History of Buddhist Education in Berkeley

Education – Research – Community

In the 1930s and 1940s, American Jōdo Shinshū Buddhists began educational and training programs for those wishing to become ordained in Japan and serve in American communities. By 1949, these programs were formalized as the Buddhist Study Center overseen by Rev. and Mrs. Kanmo Imamura at the Berkeley Buddhist Temple.

In the mid-1960s, the Study Center purchased its own building and, in 1969, incorporated with the State of California as the Institute of Buddhist Studies, a Buddhist seminary and graduate school. The school was overseen by Revs. Haruyosi Kusada and Hozan Hardiman through the 1970s, and in 1986, Dr. Alfred Bloom was appointed Dean.

In 1985, under the leadership of then-Bishop Seigen Yamaoka, the IBS affiliated with the Graduate Theological Union and began to further expand its programs. This expansion continued under the guidance of Dr. Richard Payne, who served as Dean from 1994 to 2016.

Following the completion of the Jodo Shinshu Center in Berkeley, IBS continued to expand its educational programs with new certificates and degrees, including a program in Buddhist chaplaincy. And beginning in 2015, IBS began the process of seeking accreditation with the Western Association of School and Colleges.

For more than half a century, IBS has been offering Buddhist education, innovative research, and an engaged community of scholars and practitioners.

1930s

1949

1966

1968

1969

1985

1986

1988

1994

2006

2008

2016

2017

1930s

Training programs for English-speaking ministers are established in Kyoto, Japan, and the United States.

1949

The Buddhist Study Center is established at the Berkeley Buddhist Temple. Within a decade, this program becomes the official ministerial training center for North American Shin Buddhists.

1966

The Buddhist Study Center relocates to the Haste Street dormitory and begins expanding its educational programs.

1968

Rev. Haruyoshi Kusada appointed Executive Director and begins laying the foundation for the graduate program.

1969

The Berkeley Study Center incorporates as the Institute of Buddhist Studies and registers with the State of California as a seminary and graduate school.

1985

IBS affiliates with the Graduate Theological Union, the largest and most diverse consortium of divinity and religious studies schools in the country.

1986

Dr. Alfred Bloom, a noted Shin Buddhist scholar, is appointed Dean and Head Professor.

Pictured here receiving the President’s award in 2016. The President’s Award recognizes an individual’s support for the Institute since its founding in 1949.

1988

IBS relocates its headquarters in Berkeley. The new headquarters are subsequently damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, forcing IBS to move its headquarters once again.

1994

Dr. Richard K. Payne succeeds Dr. Bloom as Dean of the Institute.

2006

The Jodo Shinshu Center is opened in Berkeley; IBS joins the BCA, Ryukoku University, and the Center for Buddhist Education as tenants in the new facility.

2008

IBS begins offering an educational program for Buddhist chaplains and further expands its programs and faculty.

2016

Rev. Dr. David Matsumoto and Dr. Scott Mitchell are appointed President and Dean of IBS.

2017

IBS awarded candidacy by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission.