Leigh Miller, PhD, is the Director of the MDiv Degree and Chaplaincy Program and a member of the faculty at Maitripa College. Leigh works with faculty, administrators, and academic advisors to develop degree program curricula, advise students, and teach courses related to contemporary Buddhist thought, theories and methods in the study of Buddhism, Engaged Buddhism, and Buddhist spiritual care.

Her particular recent focus is the growth of our robust MDiv program and Maitripa’s vision to foster spiritual formation as the integration of personal history and self-awareness, spiritual/religious practice, and professional capacities. This creates a successful and sustainable foundation for service in the world as a chaplain, Buddhist minister, or spiritual care professional or community leader.

She is a founding member of the Buddhist Ministries Working Group and the Buddhist Task Force at the Association of Professional Chaplains, a Buddhist mentor for the Chaplaincy Innovation Lab, and a 2020-2021 grantee in the Innovations in Chaplaincy Education cohort (Chaplaincy Innovation Lab/ Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion). Spurred by the events of 2020, she has engaged in deepening self-study of racialized, gendered, and other forms of structural, generational, and interpersonal violence, and is revising all her syllabi considering emergent antiracist, decolonizing, and feminist pedagogical strategies. Her aim is to better prepare Maitripa College students to compassionately, skillfully, and sensitively engage with our contemporary suffering, and to nurture life-affirming theologies and transformative and loving responses. She enjoys an interdisciplinary approach to teaching, fostering students’ connections across their curricula, in society, and their own lives, and co-creating a learning-centered community.

Leigh completed a PhD from Emory University with the dissertation Contemporary Tibetan Art and Cultural Sustainability, based on research conducted with artists in Lhasa, including nearly two years of ethnographic field work in Tibet as a Fulbright scholar. Leigh has been a curator of contemporary Tibetan art and published catalog essays for international exhibitions. As a member of scholarly guilds, Leigh has presented original research at the conferences of the American Academy of Religion, the International Association of Tibetan Studies, the International Association of Buddhist Studies, and the American Anthropological Association.

Leigh began her study of Tibetan Buddhism, language, history, and culture in 1996, when she attended teachings by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Geshe Lhundrup Sopa before living a year in Nepal, including a lamrim retreat at Kopan Monastery. Between 1996-2006, she was fortunate to study, work, research, and receive dharma teachings on many occasions across the Tibetan communities of Nepal, India, and the three regions of Tibet. In 2001, she helped establish and teach a Tibetan Studies in Dharamsala, India study abroad program. Between 1998 – 2005, Leigh worked for Drepung Loseling Monastery, Inc., and served as a founding member of the Emory-Tibet Partnership that forged the first academic affiliation between American and Tibetan institutions of higher education.

Leigh has been working at Maitripa College since 2010, where she continues to serve projects bringing the best of the Tibetan and Western scholastic and contemplative traditions into innovative education, with gratitude and joy.

Selected Publications

Miller, Leigh. (forthcoming). “Suffering is Not an Emergency….and, It Matters to End It: Some Outcomes of Training Tibetan Buddhist Scholar-Practitioners for Professional Spiritual Care” in Refuge in the Storm: Buddhist Voices in Crisis Care, Ed. Nathan Michon 

Gauthier, Jitsujo; Kinst, Daijaku; Miller, Leigh; Yuen, Elaine. 2019. “The Path to Buddhist Chaplaincy: Academic Education, Religious Endorsement, Professional Board Certification,” accessible via https://chaplaincyinnovation.org/resources/faith-tradition/buddhist-chaplaincy 

Yuen, E., Cline, G., Gauthier, J., Kinst, D. J., and Miller, L. 2018. “Professional Endorsement for Buddhist Chaplains” http://magazine.naropa.edu/wisdom-traditions-fall-2017/features/upaya-buddhist-ministry.php 

Miller, Leigh. 2017. “Deconstruction/Reconstruction in the Works of Tulku Jamyang and Tsherin Sherpa,” In BETWEEN US: Relationship and Identity in Tibetan Contemporary Art. Westerville: Otterbein University. 

Miller, Leigh. 2016. “Mickey Mouse in Tibet.” In Jeffrey Samuels, Figures of Buddhist Modernity in Asia. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.

Miller, Leigh. 2016. “The Look of Tibet without Religion.” in Himalaya. Special Issue: The Secular in the Himalayas. Edited by Holly Gayley and Nicole Willock.

Miller, Leigh. 2014. “Contemporary Tibetan Art and Cultural Sustainability in Lhasa, Tibet.” Ph.D. diss., Emory University.

Sangster, Leigh Miller. 2012. Memory and Cultural Sustainability in Contemporary Tibetan Art. Asian Art Archive. http://www.aaa.org.hk/Diaaalogue/Details/1136.

Sangster, Leigh Miller. 2012. The Work of Art in the Age of Self-Immolation. Cultural Anthropology. http://www.culanth.org/?q=node/543.

Maitripa College News Posting:  

Leigh Miller, PhD, Contributes to Tibetan Arts Week at the University of Colorado (April 2016):


contact email: program@maitripa.org

Complete CV:  Click Here to Download (PDF)

Leigh Miller, PhD
Moderating Interfaith Conversation with Ling Rinpoche, Hosted by Maitripa College at the University of Portland, 2018
During graduation ceremony in the Jokhang Meditation Hall.
Teaching an art history class on Contemporary Tibetan Art and Cultural Sustainability at the University of Colorado, Boulder, 2016.