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Hindu professor, human rights group made visit happen

Sunday, November 08, 1998

A confluence of effort by a Hindu professor at a Catholic college in Greensburg and a small human rights group in Pittsburgh has brought the Dalai Lama here.

Several years ago Chamu Namasivayam, who taught philosophy at Seton Hill College, proposed inviting the Dalai Lama to campus. President Joanne Boyle thought her school would have better luck with the pope, but agreed to ask.

Although she had cancer, Namasivayam put all her energy into the effort, said Linda Mitchell, public relations director for the college. She made contact with Tibetan Buddhists, went to appearances in other cities and had one of his representatives speak at Seton Hill.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh Friends of Tibet, which formed in 1992, raised $50,000 for a school and medical clinic in Tibet. "It brought us to the attention of His Holiness as a strong, active support group," said Dr. Deborah Draper, a Tibetan Buddhist who is one of the organizers.

She thought that if the Pittsburgh Friends of Tibet and other local groups offered a Pittsburgh stop, it might increase the lure of Western Pennsylvania. So it was done.

Early this year Boyle was astounded to learn that the Dalai Lama was coming to campus.

Namasivayam died in July. But, said Mitchell, "She died knowing that her vision, and all of the work she had put into this, had been realized and that he would come here."

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