The Ven. Hiu Wan, Founder of Huafan University
Before her ordination, the Ven. Hiu Wan, or Yu Wan-shan, was one of the most acclaimed female Chinese brush painters of the twentieth century. Under the guidance of Kao Chien-fu, the master of the Ling-nan School, she majored in art at Kwangtung College of Humanities and Technology and later at the Art College of Hong Kong. For years, she had been a visiting professor to Tagore University in India, where she taught in the Art Department and had traveled extensively. She had studied and reproduced the most representative mural paintings at Ajanta and had held art exhibitions all over the world. She was renowned for her Ch'an or Zen paintings and her invention of the modern Buddhist scriptural illustrations.
As prestigious as she had been after her ordination, she resolved never to build a temple or be an abbess. Education had always been her primary concern. Once she said, "Education is my life. I will be with it as long as I can breathe." She had founded both Tien-tai School and Hui-hai School in Hong Kong before being invited to Taiwan in 1966 to direct the Graduate Institute of Buddhism at the College of Chinese Culture. In the years to follow, she had also founded the Lotus Buddhist Seminary, the Institute for Sino-Indian Buddhist Studies, and had hosted the International Conference on Buddhist Education and Culture. In 1989, Huafan University was founded in fulfillment of her ideals—the Education of Enlightenment and the integration of Humanities and Technology.
For her singular achievement in education, arts, religion, and writing, the Ven. Hiu Wan was awarded the Cultural Medal, the nation's highest civic honor, by the government in 1997. In October 2006, she passed away, but her ideals and her long-lasting influence on education will remain forever.