The East Asia Center was founded in 1975 to provide a forum for faculty and student interest in East and Southeast Asia. The Center is designated a National Resource Center by the U.S. Department of Education. The Center sponsors a speaker series and travel grants, and promotes activities and events related to Asia. The Center is an interdisciplinary organization of faculty, each of whom is a full member of a department. Asia-related courses are taught as part of the various departmental curricula. The Center does not have its own faculty or course offerings. The Center administers the interdisciplinary MA and MBA/MA degree programs in Asian Studies, encourages and coordinates Asia-related activities, especially the lecture series, and administers a travel grant program for student and faculty travel to Asia.
The East Asia Center, along with the Center for South Asian Studies and the Tibet Center, is one of the component units of the Asia Institute.
The Director of the Center, Prof. Charles Laughlin, is responsible for overall management and is in sole charge of the Center from May to September. During the academic year the activities of the Center are carried out by a set of faculty committees. The Graduate Committee oversees the MA program, including admission. Travel grants are the responsibility of the Grants Committee. The Lecture Committee runs the lecture series and related activities. The Information Committee is in charge of the Center's newsletter.
The East Asia Center is the beneficiary of a special endowment from the Weedon family. The endowment provides most of the operating expenses of the Center, and it also 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 program. Approximately ninety percent of the Center's funding comes from private contributions and endowment earnings.
The University of Virginia Library has impressive holdings in East Asian languages -- about 46,000 monographs in Chinese, Japanese and Korean, of which approximately 80% are in Chinese and 20% in Japanese. In addition to the books regularly acquired from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan, the East Asian Collection in Alderman Library houses part of the personal collection of the late Professor Ma Kiam of Hong Kong University. The Ma Kiam collection, acquired by UVa in 1960s, consists of about 10,000 volumes of Chinese classics in the traditional Chinese book style. Several years ago, Professor Stanley Weinstein of Yale offered in bequest his personal library of about 70,000 volumes, mostly composed of books in Japanese on Buddhism in Japan-including many valuable reference materials. The Library is in the process of converting the old Barrett Room in the Alderman Library into an East Asian reading room, in anticipation of housing the collection.
In 2005, the library received a large donation (another 70,000 volumes) from the Institute for Advanced Studies of World Religions, consisting to a large extent of Buddhism-related books in Chinese and Japanese. The Library also holds about 100 current periodicals in Chinese and Japanese languages, as well as English-language newspapers such as South China Morning Post, Asian Wall Street Journal, and China Daily and Japan Times. In addition to the East Asian Collection at Alderman, there are Asia-related and Asian-language books housed in the Fiske Kimball Fine Arts Library and a strong collection of foreign films at the Robertson Media Center in Clemons Library.
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