University of Houston renews MoU with ICCR to set up new chair on Tamil language, literature | Education News


The University of Houston and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) have renewed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to set up the ICCR Chair of Indian Studies to conduct research on Tamil language, literature and culture at the university.

The MoU was signed last year but was renewed for another year at a ceremony held early this week at the University of Houston, between its Chancellor and the President Dr Renu Khator, and Consul General of India in Houston, DC Manjunath.

The Chair aims to teach and conduct research on Tamil language, literature and culture at the University of Houston. The establishment of the Chair was welcomed by the leaders in the Joint Declaration issued after Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the US in June 2023. Under the MoU, Dr T Vijayalakshmi, the visiting chair professor from India, has been teaching a curated Tamil Language and Culture Course at the University for the last two semesters.

“Having knowledge and appreciation for different cultures is a hallmark of an enlightened and advanced society. That’s why I’m so grateful that the Indian Council for Cultural Relations has renewed our visiting scholar’s partnership. It enhances our students’ depth of knowledge and gives them a competitive advantage internationally,” Renu Khator, the first Indian-American to lead a major research university in the US since 2008.

Manjunath said that the “addendum will further enhance and deepen the India-US education and knowledge partnership”. UH is only the third American university to partner with the ICCR on its global Indian Chairs Abroad programme, along with Rutgers University and the University of Pittsburgh.

Festive offer

The Tamil language, considered the oldest in the world, is one of the top five languages spoken in the United States, which is home to nearly 3,00,000 Tamil Americans. Classes in Tamil Studies began for the first cohort of students at the University of Houston by the ICCR and UH MOU signed in June 2023. The classes are being taught by Dr Thangavel Vijayalakshmi, a visiting professor of Indian Studies at UH College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.

“If something is truly valuable, it can be embraced with joy by anyone. The Tamil course at UH has been well-received by students, especially American students who are eager to learn about the language, values, and culture of Tamil Nadu and India. UH has also shown a deep interest in establishing this course. It is anticipated that this initiative will successfully achieve its goals, as desired by India and America”, Dr Vijayalakshmi said.


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