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David Gray, New Chair of the Religious Studies Department

This year saw a significant transition in the Religious Studies Department. Our chairperson for the past four years, Gary Macy, stepped down at the end of the 2014-2015 academic year, and David Gray was appointed to replace him starting in September 2015. David Gray graduated with a Ph.D. in the History of Religions from Columbia University in 2001, with a focus on Tibetan Buddhism, and he has been a professor at Santa Clara University since 2005, teaching a wide range of Asian Religions courses. He received tenure and was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor in 2010.

2015 has been a very busy year for David. In addition to learning the ropes about serving as a department chair, David worked very hard earlier this year to complete a number of writing projects before taking on this responsibility. He completed two book projects as well as a number of articles. David has had four articles published as book chapters this fall. They are: “The Three Types of Fire Sacrifice According to Kāṇha’s Śrīcakrasaṃvara-homavidhi” in Homa Variations: The Study of Ritual Change across the Longue Durée, ed. Richard K. Payne and Michael Witzel (OUP 2015), "Buddhist Sectarianism" in The Buddhist World, ed. John Powers (Routledge 2015), “Ritual Texts: Tibet: New Tantras (Gsar ma)” in Brill's Encyclopedia of Buddhism, ed. Jonathan Silk and Oskar Von Hinüber (Brill 2015) and “Translation at the Limits of Buddhist Discourse: The Politics of the Translation of Esoteric Buddhist Scriptures,” in In Vimalakirti's House: A Festschrift in Honor of Robert A. F. Thurman on the Occasion of his 70th Birthday, ed. Christian Wedemeyer, John Dunne, and Thomas Yarnall (IABS/Columbia University Press, 2015).

David and a team of three other international scholars have also been awarded a grant of $63,750 from the 84,000: Translating the Words of the Buddha Initiative to translate a Buddhist scripture, the Ḍākārṇava Tantra. He also gave a presentation at the national American Academy of Religion Conference in Atlanta, GA in November, entitled “Laughing in the Face of Fear: Horror and Terror in Yoginītantras.”