Honors College alumnus now furthers religious studies education in Utah

Photo of Ravi Gupta in light blue shirt

To help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Honors College, we’re profiling select alumni on how an honors education helped shape their personal and professional successes. Submit your own memories of the college by visiting: https://www.boisestate.edu/honors/inspired/graduates/share/

Ravi M. Gupta’s college experience was unlike most — he started his first year at age 12. While simultaneously tackling bachelor degree programs in philosophy and applied mathematics at Boise State University, fueled by devoted faculty, Gupta also discovered a passion for the humanities, philosophy, languages and religious studies.

“My experience at Boise State was one of the most powerful influences in shaping my future career,” he said. “It was that transformative experience that led me to ultimately decide to work at a state university myself, because I know the impact that it has in students’ lives.”

As an undergraduate student, Gupta learned Sanskrit from local linguist, Gary Thomas. He then translated an early 18th century text that blossomed into an honors thesis, with assistance from retired history professor Peter Buhler, as well as Harvard graduate Howard Resnick. The article, titled “A Pearl Necklace of Propositions: Baladeva Vidyabhusana’s Prameya Ratnavali,” is now one of many journal articles that Gupta has written, along with four published books.

Additionally, mathematics professor Giles Maloof offered Gupta the opportunity to lead a class session that Gupta recalled fondly as his first real experience teaching.

“The relationships I had with my professors were extraordinary,” Gupta said. “The fact that so many of them would take time in their office hours or just walking across campus to continue the discussion from class, exploring different areas and giving me a vision for the future.”

Gupta graduated from Boise State in 1999 and was admitted to the University of Oxford, where he completed a master’s in religious studies and a doctor of philosophy in Hinduism. Teaching led him to numerous universities and colleges across the United States, including the University of Florida, Centre College and the College of William and Mary.

Looking back, Gupta highlights the moment in 2008 when he met Pope Benedict XVI as one of his most remarkable since graduating from Boise State.

“I was asked by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to offer the Pope a gift on behalf of Hindus in the United States. And, of course, I’ve got the picture hanging in my office,” he laughed.

The goal of returning to the Intermountain West ultimately guided Gupta to Utah State University where he is now the Charles Redd Endowed Chair and director of the Religious Studies Program.

“Working in state universities, we teach students from many different cultural backgrounds, nationalities, socioeconomic backgrounds and first-generation college students. It’s an amazing spectrum,” said Gupta. “The ability to give everyone the tools to achieve their dreams and do their best; that’s what keeps me motivated.”

For more information on the Honors College 50th anniversary, visit: https://www.boisestate.edu/honors/inspired/