Korean Studies at UAlbany Intensifies with $135,000 Grant

Contact: Vincent Reda, 518-437-4985

Building on its formidable academic strength in the study of the culture and language of East Asia, the University at Albany has been awarded a $135,000 grant from the Korea Foundation to establish a new, tenure-track assistant professorship in Korean Studies within the Department of East Asian Studies. The position will start in the Fall of 2002.

"This grant will make Korean Studies an integral part of the University's undergraduate curriculum," said V. Mark Durand, Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "The large Korean-American student population at UAlbany has for many years supported courses in beginning Korean, and now this generous grant will strengthen and expand their academic opportunities well beyond the elementary level."

Susanna Fessler, associate professor and chair of the Department of East Asian Studies, noted that the timing of the Korea Foundation grant for UAlbany is ideal. "For one thing, Korea is becoming an economic world presence," said Fessler. "Consequently, we will be giving students a competitive advantage in a specialty that is growing in importance.

"Secondly, Korea itself over the past 100 years has been considered by western scholars as 'the third nation' in East Asian Studies. The focus was overwhelmingly on China and Japan. But that is changing, and people are becoming more culturally aware of Korea's distinctiveness.

Said Carlos Santiago, Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. "While we are the oldest and largest department devoted to teaching the languages and cultures of East Asia in the SUNY system, our significant strengths have been in the areas of China and Japan.

"We see all around us the reasons for bringing Korean studies up to this high level. Our international student population at UAlbany is at an all-time high; 65 percent of these students are from Asia, and a full 20 percent of those from Korea. Our agreements of exchange and collaboration with Korean universities and fruitful and expanding. In addition, we have many alumni residing in Korea."

The Korean Studies program at UAlbany began in 1994-95, but until last year had only a first-year Korean language course - always filled to capacity; the second year language course was added in 2000-01. The Korea Grant will add a third year language course, plus classes in the cultural economic, historical, societal or literary specialty of the professor hired.

The Korea Foundation grant marks the third successful major faculty expansion application in the history of the Department of East Asian Studies, now in its 10th year. In 1992, the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation awarded the department a three-year grant to establish a faculty position in Chinese, and in 1994 a similar award was received from the Japan Foundation.

For more University at Albany information, visit our World Wide Web site at http://www.Albany.edu.

February 21, 2001

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