The East Asia Center was founded in 1975 to provide a forum for faculty and students interested in East and Southeast Asia. It currently sponsors a speaker series, grant programs, and promotes academic activities and cultural events related to East and Southeast Asia. We are an interdisciplinary organization of faculty, each of whom is a full member of an academic department. East and Southeast Asia-related courses are taught as part of the various departmental curricula. The Center does not have its own faculty or course offerings. However, it administers the interdisciplinary M.A. and M.B.A./M.A. degree programs in East Asian Studies, while the B.A. program in East Asian Studies is administered by the Department of East Asian Languages, Literatures, and Cultures. The Center encourages and coordinates East and Southeast Asia-related activities such as lectures, and supports faculty initiatives in publications, workshops, and conferences that involve faculty across departments. It also administers a grant program for student and faculty travel to East Asia. Since 2015, the generosity of the family of Bruce and Sally Nelson has allowed the Center to sponsor the “Nelson Lectures on Southeast Asia” and to offer travel grants to Southeast Asia for study and research.
The Director of the Center, Professor Dorothy Wong of the Art Department, is responsible for overall management of its activities, which are carried out during the academic year by a set of faculty committees. The Graduate Committee oversees the M.A. and M.B.A./M.A. programs, including admission. Travel grants are the responsibility of the Grants Committee, in coordination with the International Studies Office. The Speaker Committee runs the lecture series and related activities. The Committee on Southeast Asia Programming and Grants are responsible for the Nelson Lectures and grants. Jo Watts is the Center’s full-time Administrative Coordinator; he also serves as webmaster and news editor.
Approximately ninety percent of the East Asia Center's funding comes from private contributions and endowment earnings. We are the beneficiary of a special endowment from the Weedon family that provides most of the operating expenses of the Center, and funds the Weedon Travel Grants. The Center has also received grants from the Weedon Foundation and from Jamie and Mary McConnell, as well as funds from the School of Arts and Sciences to support its lecture series. The Nelson Funds support activities specifically related to Southeast Asia.
In addition to the resources administered by the East Asia Center, research on East Asia is supported by the University of Virginia Library, which holds over 65,000 monographs in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, of which approximately 70% are in Chinese and 30% in Japanese and Korean. The Library also subscribes to full-text databases in Chinese, Japanese and Korean languages, as well as current periodicals published in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, and Korea. In addition to books regularly acquired from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan, the Alderman Library houses 10,000 volumes of Chinese classics in the traditional Chinese thread-bound style, which were acquired in the 1960s from the personal collection of the late Professor Ma Kiam (1882–1959) of the University of Hong Kong. The Fiske Kimball Fine Arts Library also has a substantial collection of books on East Asian art, including many multi-volume sets purchased in the last few decades. East Asian films are part of the foreign language film collection at the Robertson Media Center in the Clemons Library.
Professor Stanley Weinstein and his wife, Lucie, of Yale University have offered in bequest their personal library of about 70,000 volumes. This collection is mostly composed of books in Japanese on Buddhism in Japan, including many valuable reference materials. Thanks to the generosity of the Ligon-Lamsam Foundation, the Library has converted the old Barrett Room in the Alderman Library into the Asian Reading Room, in anticipation of housing the Weinstein collection. In 2005, the library received another large donation from the Institute for Advanced Studies of World Religions, consisting of a large number of Buddhism-related books in Chinese and Japanese.
To receive email news of Center and Asia-related happenings at the University of Virginia, send an email message to the East Asia Center Administrative Coordinator, Mr. Jo Watts, requesting to be added to the email list.