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Release: Jan 23, 2002

Photo: Stephen Vlastos, director of the University of Iowa Center for Asian and Pacific Studies (CAPS).

CAPS Receives $2 Million Grant To Expand Asian Studies At UI

A $2 million dollar grant from the Freeman Foundation Undergraduate Studies Funding Initiative will allow the University of Iowa Center for Asian and Pacific Studies (CAPS) to substantially strengthen its Asian studies undergraduate program.

The Freeman grant -- one of the largest humanities grants ever received by the university --will expand the Asian social sciences faculty, integrate Asian studies with the UI's renowned International Writing Program, enhance the Asian collection at the UI Library, increase undergraduate study in Asia, develop new community outreach programs, and inaugurate new K-12 outreach efforts. Some of the highlights of the grant include creating three new faculty positions, bringing eight writers from East Asia to the International Writing Program (IWP), and providing $90,000 in scholarships for undergraduate summer study in East Asia.

"The four years of funding provided by this grant will enable the UI to transform its existing Asian studies complex into a multi-disciplinary program that integrates traditional UI strengths in the humanities and arts with a new social science focus that is unique in the nation," said Stephen Vlastos, CAPS director and the grant's principal investigator.

Steven Hoch, associate provost and dean of International Programs, said this grant will expand opportunities for UI students in an area of the world where Iowa and the nation have increasing levels of interaction due to economic and cultural opportunities.

"Rising enrollments in Asian studies suggest that UI students are aware of Asia's growing importance locally and globally, and are looking for ways to prepare themselves," Hoch said. "The moment is ripe to expand an interdisciplinary Asian studies program that will prepare UI students to understand and participate in the cultural, economic, and political interactions and exchanges that link Asia to their communities and country."

The UI has offered undergraduate courses on Asia since 1952, when the university offered its first Chinese language instruction. The curriculum has evolved into a comprehensive Asian studies complex that today offers students 61 courses from beginning to advanced levels in five Asian languages, and an additional 79 courses taught by Asia specialists in history, religion, art history, journalism, anthropology, political science, sociology, and law.

CAPS, which was established in 1986 with a major gift from the E & M Charities of Muscatine, Iowa, anchors the Asian studies complex at the UI, supporting 23 full time faculty members and five lecturers dedicated to undergraduate education on Asian issues. CAPS also serves as the primary fund-raiser for Asian studies. The CAPS' endowment of $1.9 million supports

symposia, courses, lectures, cultural events, and visiting scholars from Asia. CAPS has also raised more than $1.75 million toward a $2 million capital campaign to fund two endowed professorships in Chinese and Korean studies.

The UI Office of the Provost and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences are committing the long-term matching funds necessary to ensure that the assistance of the Freeman Foundation produces permanent advances in undergraduate education on Asia.

Hoch says many individuals contributed to bringing the grant to fruition, including: Elizabeth Constantine, International Programs' grants and development officer; Dongwang Liu, CAPS assistant director; and Ellen Hammod, Japan librarian.

The Freeman Foundation is based in Vermont and was established in 1992 to support greater understanding between Asia and the United States.

CAPS is affiliated with International Programs, which consists of a number of offices, centers, degree programs, academic programs, research projects and services. Organized under the associate provost and dean for International Programs, these units serve to further internationalize the campus and community and promote global scholarship, research, teaching and service.