The Mohini Jain Presidential Chair in Jain Studies
by Jeffrey Day, College of Letters and Science
In 2017, Mohini Jain made a $1.5 million gift to the University of California, Davis, to advance the study of Jainism, one of the world’s most revered and oldest philosophies. The gift established the Mohini Jain Presidential Chair for Jain Studies in the Department of Religious Studies as part of making UC Davis a leader in the study of Indian religions and the interdisciplinary field of South Asian studies broadly.
“Jainism is a very ancient and important religion and philosophy that champions truth, nonviolence and a multiplicity of viewpoints,” Jain said. “In our multicultural, global world, it is important to escape boxed-in points of view. I am hopeful the impact of the chair at UC Davis will be a broadening of minds and a renewed focus on dialogue and peace.”
The endowment provides for a professorship focused on Jain studies and a lecture series by Jain scholars from around the globe. In 2020, Lynna Dhanani (Yale University) a specialist in Jainism, joined the Department of Religious Studies as a member of the faculty.
“This gift will further diversify and strengthen our expertise in world religions and is another step toward UC Davis serving as a leader in Indian religions and Asian studies globally,” said Archana Venkatesan, Chair of the Religious Studies department and Professor of Religious Studies and Comparative Literature.
Mohini Jain was a research scientist at UC Davis in the 1980s and then served as a high school science teacher for 19 years, retiring in 2008.
She has long been a supporter of UC Davis. In 1988, she made her first gift in honor of her husband, the late Anil K. Jain, a distinguished faculty member in electrical and computer engineering. Each year, the College of Engineering recognizes outstanding students in the field through the Anil K. Jain Memorial Fund.
The Mohini Jain Family Foundation also established an endowment at the School of Education to provide annual support for doctoral students whose research has the potential to improve public education. Jain has served as a trustee of the UC Davis Foundation and a member of the foundation’s executive committee.
You can read more about the activities undertaken under the auspices of the Chair here.