Recognizing and honoring the distinctive histories of our nation's diasporic communities is essential to building a more inclusive academic environment, and in turn creating a more equitable world. Catalyzed by the generosity and leadership of a group of alumni donors, Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) is expanding its commitment to the study of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) diaspora—creating new possibilities for students to learn how the achievements and experiences of these communities continue to shape our society.
Philanthropic support from Joseph Y. Bae AB ’94 and Janice Lee AB ’94; Kenneth Y. Hao AB ’90; Lorence H. Kim AB ’95 and Sherry H. Hsiung; Susan Kim AB ’96, MBA ’03 and David Lee AB ’93; Roger G. Kuo AB ’93, MBA ’98 and Julia L. Wong; Tony W. Lee AB ’94 and So-Chung Shinn; Young J. Lee AB ’94, MBA ’98 and Young Ju Rhee; and Melissa J. Ma AB ’92, MBA ’96 will endow new professorships and graduate fellowships in Asian American studies, as well as provide vital funding for academic research. These gifts will facilitate the recruitment of leading scholars, who will contribute to a flourishing intellectual hub of faculty and graduate students.
Bolstering funding for Asian American studies at Harvard is key to the vision of Claudine Gay, Edgerley Family Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, who has made it a priority to enhance the study of ethnicity, indigeneity, and migration (EIM) at the FAS through faculty recruitment and academic support so that Asian American studies, along with the study of Latinx and Muslim American experiences, can flourish at Harvard. This is a crucial part of the FAS’s ongoing commitment to invest significant resources into the study of diverse cultural backgrounds and histories. Outlined in its comprehensive anti-racist strategy announced in August 2020, the overarching goal is to advance racial justice through teaching and research on racial and ethnic inequalities.
“We are thrilled to support Harvard’s long-term commitment to the field of Asian American studies and Dean Gay’s vision to advance racial justice by attracting exceptional faculty and students to Harvard.”
“Asian American studies is a rich, dynamic area of inquiry at the center of some of the biggest challenges we face today,” says Gay, “and a full account of contemporary American society demands scholarship that makes visible the relevance, significance, and worth of diverse cultural backgrounds and histories.”
Giving back has always been important for Bae and Lee, who are long-standing supporters of the FAS, particularly in the areas of financial aid and the arts. The arts remain a vital part of their most recent gift, which includes funding for a professorship that will be awarded to an eminent scholar in the arts and humanities with a research focus in Asian American studies. Now, their philanthropic leadership extends to growing the future of inclusive learning at Harvard.