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Release: Immediate

UI center receives $500,000 gift for endowed chair in Chinese studies

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Center for Asian and Pacific Studies (CAPS) has received a $500,000 gift from a Taiwanese corporation to help fund a new endowed chair in Chinese studies.

The gift comes from The Hua Hsia Investment Holding Company and its chairwoman, Teresa Chou, who graduated from the UI in 1971 with a doctorate in journalism. Chou met with UI President Mary Sue Coleman and other UI officials in Taiwan in January 1998 to discuss the possibility of a gift to promote Chinese studies. During that meeting the UI secured an informal commitment from a Hua Hsia to help fund the endowed chair. Chou will visit the UI campus Feb. 11-17 to give UI officials an opportunity to formally recognize her commitment.

Jae-On Kim, professor and director of CAPS, said the Hua Hsia gift, together with an earlier gift from the Stanley Foundation, will create a $1.5-million base of funding for an endowed chair in Chinese studies at the UI.

That the gift comes from a Taiwanese corporation is strong evidence of the crucial role Taiwan will play in preserving Chinese history and culture into the next century, Kim said. "Taiwan has long served as a guardian for Chinese cultural traditions and artistic works," he said. "The people of Taiwan have a very strong interest in preserving Chinese culture and in the dissemination of information about the rich heritage of the Chinese people."

By establishing an endowed chair in Chinese studies, the UI is "making a permanent contribution to the promotion of Chinese studies," Kim added.

Coleman said the trip to Taiwan last winter demonstrated the UI administration's commitment to supporting research, scholarship, and teaching in Chinese studies, and that alumni ties, particularly with Chou, were key to securing this gift. "When we visited Taiwan, I was impressed with the Hua Hsia Company's commitment to supporting the University of Iowa as we look for ways to expand our international educational opportunities," Coleman said. "I am pleased that our international alumni, especially Teresa Chou, continue to support the University of Iowa, and I look forward to strengthening these ties in the years to come."

Hualing Nieh-Engle, UI professor emerita and co-founder and former director of the International Writing Program, played a critical role in making the initial connection with Chou. Engle's name and prestige in Taiwan helped the UI gain visibility in that region. In addition, the UI has many prominent alumni in Taiwan, including major university presidents and several former ministers of education.

Michael McNulty, associate provost and dean of International Programs, said that establishing the endowed chair in Chinese studies will help the UI advance its goal of expanding the international scope of teaching and research across the campus.

"This professorship will allow us to strengthen and extend our program in the study of Chinese culture and society and will also help us to attract some world-class scholars to the University of Iowa," he said.

McNulty also noted that private donations to support scholarly activities are becoming vital in an era of shrinking public funds for research and scholarship. "This gift represents an important partnership between the University of Iowa, the Stanley family, and the Hua Hsia Foundation," he said. "Such partnerships are likely to be an increasingly important part of the way in which scholarship devoted to international studies can be maintained in the face of shrinking federal resources."

(Editor's Note: If you are interested in interviewing Theresa Chou, please call Peggy Pick-Sutton at (319) 335-1306 or Lois Gray at (319) 335-2026.)