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
"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
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
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.