media release

SFU receives $500,000 pledge to host leading Indian scholars

Hari and Madhu Varshney Endowment brings first scholar in spring 2017

October 19, 2016

Ian Bryce, University Communications, 604.773.8134,

Simon Fraser University has received a $500,000 pledge from Hari and Madhu Varshney to bring world-class Indian scholars to Vancouver. The Hari and Madhu Varshney Visiting Scholars Program in Indian Studies will enable SFU students to learn from leading Indian academics, who will also share their knowledge of India with the broader community.

“This wonderful gift will strengthen SFU’s commitment to engage the world,” says SFU president Andrew Petter. “Thanks to the Varshneys’ generosity, these scholars will enrich our educational and research environment, while deepening understanding of India’s rich culture and heritage amongst the communities we serve.”

In 2014, SFU established a visiting scholars program with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR)—the first Canadian university in Western Canada to host ICCR scholars. The Hari and Madhu Varshney Endowment will augment this program and ensure its continuance, with the first scholar expected in spring 2017.

"Madhu and I believe that learning never ends and education never gets wasted,” says Hari Varshney. “We have made this contribution so the knowledge of visiting Indian scholars will enrich the studies of SFU students and benefit the community. Madhu is a Katthak classical dancer and poet who has published 10 books. The learnings from Vedas and Vedic scriptures are also close to our hearts."

Program scholars, ranging from experts in Indian arts, history, culture and Vedas and Vedic scriptures and knowledge, will be resident at SFU for one or two semesters.

The pledge was announced at SFU’s 9th annual Diwali Gala on Tuesday, October 18, held in honour of the SFU-India Advisory Council. Hari Varshney was an original member of the council when it was established in 2006.



Since 2006, the SFU-India Advisory Council, the first to be established in Canada, has helped to guide SFU’s strategy to expand SFU-India academic and research collaborations, including incoming scholars, initiatives for students to work and volunteer in India, and scholarships for Indian students to study at SFU.

Program scholars help to facilitate cultural awareness and exchange, connect with companies and government agencies looking to develop BC-India programming and become honorary members of the SFU-India Advisory Council. They also teach and give public lectures, and help to promote joint research and writing projects.

The ICCR works towards establishing, reviving and strengthening cultural relations and mutual understanding between India and other countries.





As Canada's engaged university, SFU is defined by its dynamic integration of innovative education, cutting-edge research and far-reaching community engagement. SFU was founded 50 years ago with a mission to be a different kind of university—to bring an interdisciplinary approach to learning, embrace bold initiatives, and engage with communities near and far. Today, SFU is Canada’s leading comprehensive research university and is ranked one of the top universities in the world. With campuses in British Columbia’s three largest cities – Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey – SFU has eight faculties, delivers almost 150 programs to over 35,000 students, and boasts more than 135,000 alumni in 130 countries around the world.


Simon Fraser University: Engaging Students. Engaging Research. Engaging Communities.

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