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~Wellesley College Receives $1.5 million for Asian Studies~

For immediate release:
March 12, 2002

Mary Ann Hill,

WELLESLEY, Mass. -- Wellesley's Asian Studies curriculum has received a major boost in the form of a $1.5 million grant from the Freeman Foundation of New York City. The four-year grant will broaden and deepen the Asian Studies curriculum through a coordinated program of faculty appointments, professional and curriculum development, course-related library resources, and student financial aid for programs in Asia.

"This grant comes at a most opportune time for the College," commented President Diana Chapman Walsh. "We have been reviewing the role of Asian Studies in our curriculum and are pleased that we will be able to expand our offerings in this important area."

Wellesley has a long tradition of interest and involvement in Asia, dating back to 1888, when the college welcomed its first foreign student from Japan. The first scholarships for Chinese students were established in 1906 to honor the visit of the Chinese High Commissioners of Education. Today, more than 350 alumnae live in some part of Asia, and nearly one quarter of the student body is of Asian descent.

Wellesley's legacy of teaching about East Asia began in 1966 with the development of one of the first Chinese language courses at a liberal arts college. Today, Wellesley's Chinese Department is nationally recognized for its tradition of excellence, offering a complete language program from beginning courses through classical Chinese, advanced seminars, and an intensive summer language and culture program in Beijing. Instruction in Japanese language began in 1985, and the Japanese Department provides courses in language through four years, augmented by offerings in literature, drama, and film. In addition, Wellesley is one of the few undergraduate colleges to have a full-time historian who teaches only courses on Japan.

With the Freeman Foundation funds, Wellesley will expand financial aid for students enrolled in summer and Wintersession programs in Asia. The College now offers a four-week summer program in Beijing with intensive, advanced language instruction.

The grant also will support targeted faculty appointments in the social sciences and humanities and postdoctoral fellows in Asian Studies. Through its participation in a Mellon Foundation postdoctoral fellows program, Wellesley has expanded its curricular offerings and been able to experiment in new areas. The Freeman Foundation grant will expand upon this important initiative.

The grant will support professional development opportunities for Asian Studies faculty and those in other disciplines with whom they will collaborate on interdisciplinary courses and scholarship.

The foundation's gift also will enable Wellesley's Clapp Library to expand its collections to support intensified interests in Asian Studies through media such as contemporary periodicals and newspapers and language instruction materials in various formats. The College also plans to enlarge its Asian film and media collection with the addition of more subtitled films and those in the original languages.

The initiatives supported by the grant complement the College's global education agenda and are among the priorities supported by The Wellesley Campaign, a five-year effort to raise $400 million. To date, more than $257 million has been raised toward this goal.

The Freeman Foundation provides grants for the promotion of international understanding, particularly related to Asia, and environmental projects in the state of Vermont.


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