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East Asian Institute Named for Weatherhead Foundation

By Katie Moore

The prestigious East Asian Institute is being named in recognition of the Weatherhead Foundation's long-standing and generous commitment to East Asian studies at Columbia. The value of the Weatherhead endowment now stands at more than $18 million, enabling the Institute to expand its thriving programs in research and education about modern and contemporary East Asia.

"The new Weatherhead East Asian Institute is a testament to Albert and Celia Weatherhead's remarkable role in educating generations of students about Asia," stated President Lee C. Bollinger. "The Weatherheads have long supported Columbia's academic strength in East Asian studies. The Institute now stands as a symbol of their dedication for future generations."

Founded in 1949, the East Asian Institute has been a significant contributor to the current understanding of modern East Asia (covering China, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, and, increasingly, Tibet and the countries of Southeast Asia). From the first Institute director, who wrote the policy that resulted in keeping the Japanese emperor on the throne after World War II, to the co-editor of the recent "Tiananmen Papers," faculty engagement with contemporary Asia and Asian affairs has always reached far beyond the classroom.

The Institute has educated generations of experts for Asia-related careers in academia, international affairs, business and other professions. Faculty and scholars at the Institute are distinguished by an interdisciplinary approach to modern East Asia that cuts across the fields of history, political science, economics, anthropology and literature. The Institute's Asia for Educators program sponsors seminars and develops resources to support Asian studies in schools and colleges throughout the country.

With enhanced support from the Weatherhead Foundation, the East Asian Institute has launched a significant expansion of its programs. New projects include public policy forums and the Weatherhead Program in Contemporary Culture and Art in East Asia. In 2002, these events, among others, drew audiences from across the University and the metropolitan area to hear Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen speak on human security and see films from Hong Kong and Tibet in their first New York City screenings. The first volume in the new series entitled Weatherhead Books on Asia, "Nanjing 1937: a Love Story" (Columbia University Press, November 2002), has generated significant interest in the international book market, with film studios now negotiating the purchase of movie rights. Weatherhead Fellowships for Institute graduate students have supported a range of projects including language study in Mongolia, internships in Southeast Asia, and research on AIDS in China.

"The East Asian Institute is a national treasure with a breadth of initiatives touching almost every aspect of a dynamic region," said Albert Weatherhead, III. "Attaching our efforts, thought and funding to the Institute has been a long cherished dream, and the naming of the Institute forges another enduring link between the Weatherhead family and Columbia."

The Weatherhead Foundation was created by A.J. Weatherhead, Jr. in 1953 and is currently headed by his son, Albert J. Weatherhead, III. The Weatherhead Fund at Columbia, founded in 1980 with the Foundation's first $1.5 million gift to the University, is named in honor of another of the founder's sons, the late Richard W. Weatherhead. Richard Weatherhead earned an M.A. and, in 1966, a Ph.D. in history from Columbia. During the 1960s he taught at Columbia and then went on to serve as president of the Foundation where he developed Asia-related projects and an abiding interest in educating the next generation of Asian scholars.

Published: Jan 27, 2003
Last modified: Jan 20, 2010

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