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Ridgefielder says Dalai Lama visit will bring new perspective

The 14th Dalai Lama will give two talks at WestConn in Danbury.

Erland Hagman

When Erland Hagman’s 22-year-old daughter died unexpectedly in 2005, the Ridgefield man didn’t know where to turn.

“I was in very serious need of help and healing,” Mr. Hagman said. “There is no greater sorrow than losing your child, and I was in search of anything that would help ease my pain.”

It was providence that brought him to the Redding Meditation Society and he embraced the Buddhist way of life through spiritual meditation.

“The monks started me on my personal journey that I continue to this day,” Mr. Hagman said. His new insight into spirituality and healing has made him eager for the upcoming visit of the world’s foremost Buddhist monk, the Dalai Lama, to Western Connecticut State University in Danbury.

On Oct. 18 and 19, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, will give two talks on the Danbury campus: “The Art of Compassion” and “Advice for Daily Life.”

The visit is the result of collaboration between the university and the Tibetan Buddhist Center for Universal Peace in Redding. Mr. Hagman says the Dalai Lama’s visit is an excellent way to bring peace and unity to the community.

“I was naturally very surprised and delighted that the Dalai Lama has chosen to come to Western,” Mr. Hagman said. “His visit is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see someone whose views and lifestyle are so inspirational. We often get caught up in our daily routines and events without spending time being joyful about all the many blessings we have.”

Mr. Hagman says the visit, among other things, are proof that the university is a vital part of the community. A member of the WCSU Foundation Board of Directors, Mr. Hagman recently donated $5,000 to the Veronica Hagman Memorial Scholarship, in memory of his daughter, a psychology major at Western who died during her senior year.

Mr. Hagman supports Western because of what he considers its critical community role, which includes providing opportunities for students long after they have earned their degrees. “WCSU has a good foundation to grow its student size and student caliber,” Mr. Hagman said. “And I want to be part of that success story.”

Because both of Mr. Hagman’s daughters attended Western, he knows firsthand about the quality of a WCSU education. “The curriculum, new campus improvements and teachers are wonderful and provide a good value for a college investment. I want to support Western and all the good work they do for young minds,” he said.

Mr. Hagman is the founder and owner of Ergotech Inc., a producer of ergonomically beneficial equipment in Danbury. He earned an engineering degree from Lund University in his native Sweden, an MBA from Pace University and a Ph.D. from Northeastern University. He worked for other companies, including Asea Brown Boveri and Curtis Instruments, before launching his own firm.

Mr. Hagman explained his view that Western’s contributions extend far beyond education by sharing students’ talents and passions with the community — and the Dalai Lama’s presence is a shining example.

“Many of us may not even think about the benefits that an opportunity such as this would bring to our community,” he said. “I know that his visit will benefit anyone who will come to see him.”

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