Leaders of the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls say the Dalai Lama of Tibet has accepted an invitation to visit the school’s Cedar Falls campus. U.N.I. assistant vice president of outreach & special programs, Jan Hanish, says the school has had a long relationship placing students worldwide through the Tibetan Fund.

Hanish says that relationship led to the natural next step to extend an invitation to the Dalai Lama to visit U.N.I. to talk about the importance education in a global society. The Dalai Lama is the head of state and the spiritual leader of Tibet, and lives in exile in India.

Hanish says they’ve worked for over a year to prepare the invitation. She says this last summer they were able to get an audience with his Holiness as the Dalai Lama visited Madison, Wisconsin — and presented the formal invitation that he accepted. Hanish says now that he’s accepted the invitation, it’s a matter of finding a time for the visit.

Hanish says it’s in the hands of his office and representatives as they look at the Dalai Lama’s commitments over the next couple of years to see where U.N.I. will fit in. Hanish says they’ve been doing a lot of research to find out what it takes to host such a visit. She says they’ve contacted other universities that have hosted such a visit, and she thinks they have an idea of what it will entail, but admits they will likely find a lot of surprises along the way.

Hanish says they are now just waiting and hoping to hear back on possible dates for the visit in a couple of months.