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University of Iowa News Release


Sept. 17, 2008

Center receives $200,000 grant to enhance Asian studies at the UI

A recent $200,000 grant from the Freeman Foundation Undergraduate Asian Studies Initiative (FFUASI) will further enhance the continuing efforts of the University of Iowa Center for Asian and Pacific Studies (CAPS) in promoting teaching and research on East and Southeast Asia on campus and beyond.

The grant is a renewal of the initial $2 million FFUASI funding brought to the UI by former CAPS director Stephen Vlastos in 2002. The funding will enable CAPS to build upon its current programming, which will benefit a population of students who continue to have fewer opportunities in their K-12 public educations with respect to Asian studies programming.

Some of the highlights of the grant include providing eight additional study abroad scholarships per year, increasing support staff and funds for teacher training materials for the Confucius Institute at the UI, funding two writers per year at the UI International Writing Program (IWP), offering the Asia Pacific Summer Institute (APSI) for Iowa high school students, and adding one non-endowed Asian Studies faculty position in pre-modern Chinese history.

The first installment of the two additional years of funding, which totals $400,000, was received after former CAPS director Chuanren Ke responded to the FFUASI II request for proposals in May 2008. Current CAPS director Sonia Ryang will be the project director on the grant, which will begin on Jan. 1, 2009.

"The grant is an exemplary accomplishment of my predecessor Professor Chuanren Ke," Ryang said. "As the new director of CAPS, I am determined to work toward successful delivery of this grant's outcome."

Ryang is also associate professor and anthropology and international studies and the C. Maxwell and Elizabeth M. Stanley Family and the Korea Foundation Scholar of Korean Studies in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

The third year of the grant will be supported by matching funds from numerous UI sources. The UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, UI International Programs, the Confucius Institute at the University of Iowa, and the International Writing Program will contribute to the funding in year three and beyond.

The UI has a strong history of supporting Asian studies, beginning in 1952 when Chinese language classes were first introduced. CAPS was established in 1986 with a major gift from the E & M Charities and the Stanley family of Muscatine, Iowa. Anchoring the Asian studies complex at the UI, CAPS now supports 26 tenure-track UI Asian Studies faculty members. In the spring of 2008, 22 East Asian language courses with an enrollment of 388 were offered. In the 2007-08 academic year, 135 undergraduates majored in Asian languages, 49 undergraduate students majoring in International Studies selected East Asia as their area of emphasis, and 17 graduate students pursued studies in Asian civilizations.

The initial 2002 grant has allowed the UI to accomplish a number of things. Since 2002, three tenure-track faculty members and a full-time East Asia cataloguer have been hired and new courses have been developed. The grant has also allowed for the organization of reciprocal short-term faculty exchanges between the UI and East Asia performing art institutions, and the International Writing Program has been able to bring in prominent writers from East Asia. Additionally, introductory summer study tours to Korea, Japan and China were developed in cooperation with the UI Office for Study Abroad, as well as support of foreign exchange student enrollment in the Iowa Intensive English Program, and the development of multimedia library resources.

"The FFUASI I resulted in numerous follow-up collaborations, and we anticipate that the FFUASI II will continue that trend," Ryang said. "I am certain that the FFUASI II grant support of CAPS and Confucius Institute programs will stimulate applications campuswide for other external grants both from federal funding agencies and from private foundations."

The Freeman Foundation Undergraduate Asian Studies Initiative was launched in 2001 to expand Asian studies programs at 84 colleges and universities throughout the United States.

CAPS is affiliated with UI International Programs, which enables UI students, faculty, staff and the public to learn from and about the world. Its offices, degree programs and events provide life-changing opportunities on campus and abroad, heighten intellectual and cultural diversity, and give all university constituents access to vital international knowledge. For more information, visit or call 319-353-2700. International Programs is part of the UI Office of the Provost.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Rebecca Kessler, 319-335-0159,; Kelli Andresen, International Programs, 319-335-2026,; Writer: Lini Ge