Generous endowment funds faculty research for Asian & Pacific Islander American Studies program

apia.jpgCourtesy photo

The Han Zhang and Jinlan Liu Family Foundation recently established a $100,000 faculty research endowment for the Asian & Pacific Islander American Studies (APIA) program at William & Mary.

The Jinlan Liu APIA Faculty Research Endowment is named in honor of Han Zhang’s P '20 wife, Jinlan Liu P '20.

“I am deeply honored to establish a faculty research endowment for the Asian Pacific & Islander Studies,” Liu said, during the endowment ceremony. “This endowment is a step toward providing greater opportunities for current and future research opportunities in the Asian American community.”

Francis Tanglao Aguas, founding director of the APIA program and professor of theater and Asian Pacific Studies, recently discussed the impact of this generous gift.

Tell me about the APIA program.

Asian & Pacific Islander American Studies (APIA) was established at William & Mary in 2016 to expand the scholarly research and study of the histories, cultures, experiences, laws and policies relevant to Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Earlier this year, the program began offering a major concentration and minor in APIA under the auspices of William & Mary's Global Studies. We became the second APIA program in the South, joining the University of Texas, Austin. In the Southeast, we are the only full-degree granting program of our kind.

Core courses that students must take include Introduction to Asian & Pacific Islander Studies, Peoples and Cultures of Polynesia, Asian American Experience, Asian Pacific American History and Asian American Studies.

What impact will this endowment have on APIA?

The Jinlan Liu APIA Faculty Research Endowment will support the research of APIA’s core faculty, which frequently involves our students. Supporting faculty in their research incentivizes faculty participation and contribution to our new program. This endowment greatly ensures the program’s sustainability for many years to come.

How does this funding help meet the goals of this program?

The faculty who contribute to the APIA Studies Program are stellar scholars from a wide range of academic departments. This gift allows them to conduct important, culturally relevant research, and bring their expertise to W&M students.

How many students are in APIA?

The two sections of our gateway course (Intro to APIA Studies) have been enrolling above capacity, expanding from a 15-person seminar to a 25-person class. We are able to offer it once a semester at maximum enrollment. Since graduating APIA majors through the self-designed interdisciplinary studies major, we have graduated 20 majors.

How many faculty members will be impacted by this gift?

All 13 APIA faculty members are eligible to be awarded a research grant from the Jinlan Liu Endowment.

What type of faculty research will the gift fund?

All of our faculty’s research is eligible for the funds. For example, Professors Monika Gosin and Joanna Schug’s research is on the uneven coverage and treatment of Asian males and African American women in media when compared to Asian women and Black men.

Why is it important to fund faculty research at W&M?

Funding APIA’s faculty research is crucial to maintaining excellence not only in students’ participation in faculty work, but also because research excellence manifests in our faculty’s high-caliber teaching — both of which are the hallmarks of a William & Mary education.

Is there anything else you would like to add about the impact of this endowment?

That a newly formed program such as W&M’s APIA attracted the support of the Zhang-Liu family demonstrates the efficacy, urgency and relevance of studying the experiences, history and contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, especially in this current socio-political climate. Without the generosity and firm commitment of supporters like Dr. Han Zhang, Ms. Jinlan Liu, and our own alumnus Benny Zhang ’16, W&M would not have the only degree-granting program in APIA in the American Southeast.