Paul J. Bennett Memorial Fund

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Overview

The Burma Studies Foundation is a non-political charitable organization which was established in 1986 to promote the study, understanding and appreciation of Burma, including its people, society, art, literature, language, history, religion and culture. Although the Foundation trustees and members of the Burma Studies Group have been actively pursuing the educational goals as propounded in the Declaration of Trust through the Burma Studies Center at Northern Illinois University and by hosting biennial conferences, the academic environment in the United States for the teaching and receiving instruction in the field of Burma Studies has been steadily deteriorating for several decades and is fast approaching a critical juncture.

Currently there are few academics at U.S. institutions of higher learning that offer comprehensive courses on subjects pertaining to Burma at either the under-graduate or graduate levels. This small but devout group of scholars who were trained in an earlier era when there was more official interest and greater resources available for Southeast Asian Studies, will shortly be approaching retirement. This will leave the field of Burma Studies short of suitably trained specialists. Such a state of affairs could not come at a worse time with the world fast becoming more global and more interconnected in the political and economic spheres. There is an increasing demand for specialists in both the private and public sectors who have an in-depth knowledge of Burma.

Establishing a Fund

One important way to address this problem is through the offering of scholarships to select individuals of proven academic achievement and outstanding potential to pursue graduate and post-graduate work in the humanities and social science areas of Burma Studies. The offering of subventions to facilitate the publication of research works of seminal importance in the field of Burma Studies is another way to promote a greater knowledge of Burma.

To begin to make this a reality, the Burma Studies Foundation established the Paul J. Bennett Memorial Fund in March 2001. The original seed money for this fund was from a bequest by the late Paul J. Bennett, a distinguished diplomat and scholar of Southeast Asia. Contributions from the trustees of the Burma Studies Foundation increased the inaugural donation to $20,000.00 which has been invested in mutual funds and an interest bearing account with Merrill Lynch. The Foundation is planning to build up a sizeable endowment with donations from interested persons and organizations from which scholarships and subventions can be offered to qualified scholars selected through an application process administered by the trustees.

The Foundation previously made a grant of $2,000.00 to enable a promising graduate student at the University of Hawaii continue his studies in Burmese archaeology. In addition, a $2,500.00 subvention was made to Ava Publishing House in Bangkok to enable the publication of a translation by Euan Bagshawe of U Tin's seminal work on 'The Royal Administration of Burma.' It is hoped that with the establishment of the Paul J. Bennett Memorial Fund more grants for such worthwhile endeavors will be possible.

Contributions

Gifts, bequests, legacies and transfers to the Paul J. Bennett Memorial fund which is administered through the Burma Studies Foundation, are deductible for tax purposes to the full extent of the law in accordance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. All contributions received will be formally acknowledged with a written receipt from the treasurer of the Foundation.

Donations should be made out to The Paul J. Bennett Memorial Fund and sent to:

Dr. F.K. Lehman, Treasurer
1316 Grandview Drive
East Champaign, IL 61820 USA
217-333-8423 (phone)
217-244-3490 (fax)
f-lehman@uiuc.edu (e-mail) 
Inquiries should also be directed to the same address.

Board of Trustees

Chairman

Dr. F.K. Lehman
(anthropologist, linguist)

Secretary

Mr. Julian Wheatley (linguist)

Treasurer

Dr. F.K. Lehman
(anthropologist, linguist)

Board Members

Ms. Maureen Aung-Thwin
(NGO administrator)

Dr. Michael Aung-Thwin
(historian)

Dr. John Badgley
(curator and author)

Dr. Sarah Bekker
(S.E. Asia area specialist)

Dr. Mary P. Callahan
(political scientist)

Dr. Dorothy Guyot
(international education)

Dr. Gustaaf Houtman
(anthropologist)

Dr. Ward Keeler
(anthropologist)

Ms. Mya Thanda Helen Poe
(librarian)

Mr. Paul Sarno
(attorney at law)

Hsaya U Saw Tun
(linguist)

Dr. Juliane S. Schober
(anthropologist)

Professor David Steinberg
(political scientist)

The Director of the Burma Studies Center is a non-voting ex-officio-member of the board of trustees.