The Leidecker Center for Asian Studies supports interdisciplinary study of Asia, drawing on the expertise of people from across the campus. The Center sponsors an annual lecture series, seminars, and conferences. In coordination with the resources of the College Office of International Academic Services, the Center also promotes academic and cultural exchange, as well as awareness of Asia and its place in the world. Beyond the academic study of Asia, the Center for Asian Studies sponsors public workshops allowing direct familiarity with various aspects of Asian cultures.
The Mary Washington College Board of Visitors established the Leidecker Center for Asian Studies in 1998 in honor of Emeritus Professor of philosophy Kurt Leidecker (1902-1991) . A professor at Mary Washington College from 1948 until his retirement in 1973, and a specialist in Buddhism, Leidecker was devoted to the promotion of tolerance and cross-cultural understanding.
Leidecker Center Co-Directors
David Ambuel, Associate Professor of Philosophy, with concentrations in ancient Greece, India and Asia; Asian religion; metaphysics and epistemology in Buddhist and Hindu traditions.
Mehdi Aminrazavi, Professor of Philosophy and Religion, with concentrations in Islamic Philosophy and Theology, Medieval Philosophy, Philosophy of Religion, Sufism, Eastern and Western Mysticism.
Department of Classics, Philosophy and Religion
Asian Student Association
James Farmer Multicultural Center
About Kurt F. Leidecker
Born in Germany in 1902, Kurt Leidecker emigrated to the United States to attend Oberlin College at the age of eighteen. He began as a botany major but soon switched to philosophy with the intention of concentrating on Indian philosophy. His first attraction to Asia had grown out of childhood conversations with his grandfather. His interests now well-defined, he continued with graduate studies at the University of Chicago, where he studied philosophy and Sanskrit, writing his Ph.D. dissertation on the Bhagavadgita, in which he related the Gita’s philosophical concepts to ideas of the 19th century German philosopher Hegel. Leidecker came to Mary Washington College in 1948. His activities give Mary Washington the little known distinction of being one of the first institutions of higher education in the United States to offer philosophy courses in Asian thought. He brought to the college a love for and knowledge of Asia that was enhanced by two leaves of absence: in 1956-57, when he was a Fulbright research scholar in India, and again in 1956-57, which Dr. Leidecker spent in Thailand as a cultural attache with the United States Information Service. During his time in Bangkok, Leidecker was also associated with Mahachulalongkorn Rajavidyalai, the university where Buddhist monks receive training. In his many years of service to Mary Washington College, Dr. Leidecker not only taught Asian philosophy and religion, but worked to develop Asian Studies in general, was friend and mentor to foreign students, and advised and set up a program for pre-Foreign Service students. Kurt Leidecker left his estate to Mary Washington for the promotion of Asian Studies.
Kurt F. Leidecker (1902-1991) A professor of philosophy at Mary Washington College from 1948 until his retirement in 1973, and a specialist in Buddhism, Leidecker was devoted to the promotion of tolerance and cross-cultural understanding.