College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Rex Niswander

Primary office:

Rex Niswander is A&R Director at GLP Music and CEO of Laughing Buddha Records.

GLP Music was founded by Niswander and Angela Jackson in order to introduce children to world languages and cultures through music. GLP's catalogue includes Coloreando, a collection of traditional Spanish children's songs featuring Marta Gomez, which won the Latin Grammy for Best Latin Children's Album in 2014. GLP's most recent release is Bahaghari, a collection of traditional Filipino songs sung by Tony Award winner Lea Salonga.

Laughing Buddha Records has released a number of albums by Tibetan artists, including Tenzin Kunsel and Tenzin Choegyal, as well as the soundtrack to Ngawang Choephel's film Tibet in Song, which won a Sundance Film Festival Award. Several Laughing Buddha releases have won Tibetan Music Awards and Parents' Choice Awards and Laughing Buddha itself was presented a Tibetan Music Award in  "Special Recognition" in 2013.

Niswander wrote Visas for Life, a multimedia tribute to Chiune Sugihara (the "Japanese Schindler"), Japanese Consul in Lithuania during World War II. At great danger to himself and his family, Sugihara saved thousands of Jews from the Holocaust by granting them transit visas in direct violation of orders from the Japanese government. In association with the World Youth Leadership Network, Visas for Life had its U.S. premier in New York at Carnegie Hall and its Japanese premier in Tokyo's Kioi Hall with the support of the Israeli Embassy in Japan. 

Niswander spent many years living and working in Asia, including Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines and Korea. After graduating from the Defense Language Institute, he began his professional career as a Chinese translator for the U.S. Air Force Security Service. He is also a graduate of Columbia Law School and received Columbia's Parker School Recognition of Achievement with Honors in International and Comparative Law. At Columbia he was a Teaching Fellow, an International Fellow and an editor of both the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law and the Columbia Journal of Law & the Arts. He has a B.A. with honors from the University of Kansas Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures. He also studied at Tsukuba University in Japan and at Taiwan Normal University in Taipei.

Since 2014, Niswander has served as Chair of the Advisory Board of the School of Languages, Literatures & Cultures at the University of Kansas. He is also a member of the boards of the Riverside Symphony Orchestra and the Marshall McLuhan Center on Global Communications. He is President of the Niswander Foundation, whose projects include the John Niswander Awards for outstanding students of Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Tibetan at the University of Kansas. Since the program was established in 1995, Niswander Awards have been given to 96 students. Past positions include Chair of the Board of Directors of the Global Language Project and service on the boards of the American Institute of Guitar and Tibet Aid.


1st annual Graduation Ceremony


Our Statement on Diversity in support of Rock Chalk Invisible Hawk and the University of Kansas Black Student Union’s efforts to combat racism.
The School of Languages & Cultures serves as a gateway to understanding the diversity of the world, through learning languages, literatures, and cultures, past and present. Through its research and teaching, the SLLC offers students opportunities for deep engagement with a wide range of languages, literatures, and cultures that provide the knowledge and skills to interact with and understand the world. The faculty and students who teach, research, and learn in the SLLC consider issues of diversity fundamental to all of our work. The study of others' languages, literatures, and cultures enables us to develop deep empathy and perspective informs the way that we approach issues before us, whether on a personal, local, regional, national, or global scale. Therefore take it as axiomatic that the SLLC stands for a campus that is committed to the meaningful sharing, contemplation, and discussion of ideas that emerge from multiple cultural perspectives and experiences. We continually rededicate ourselves to the principle of diversity. We strive to create an atmosphere where all students and faculty feel comfortable and welcome to express their views as well as work together to solve conflict. Further, we view our mission as a center of diversity on a flagship campus as requiring us to lead by example.

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