President George Rupp with Ceila and Albert Weatherhead
Spurred by enhanced support from an endowment created by The Weatherhead Foundation, Columbia University's East Asian Institute (EAI) will launch a significant expansion of its programs, including the creation of postdoctoral fellowships, visiting professorships, a faculty research program, graduate training grants, student internships, a resident fellows program, and symposiums and workshops. The endowment will also support graduate fellowships for students pursuing advanced degrees in East Asian-related fields.
The Weatherhead Foundation, which has supported the East Asian Institute since 1980, was founded by A. J. Weatherhead, Jr. in 1953 and is currently headed by his son, A. J. Weatherhead, III. The Weatherhead Fund at Columbia is named in honor of another of the founder's sons, the late Richard W. Weatherhead, who earned an M.A. in history from Columbia, followed by a Ph.D. in 1966.
"As a student at the University, Richard Weatherhead displayed an interest in history that was deep and far-reaching," said Columbia President George Rupp. "He had a reputation as someone who would ask his instructors questions they had not previously considered, and when they answered him, he usually was ready with more -- and more challenging -- questions. He had a particular interest in the education of new generations of Asian studies scholars, and it is, therefore, fitting that his name should live on at Columbia in this way."
Since its inception, the endowment created by the Weatherhead Foundation has risen in value to more than $18 million.
Said Foundation President Albert Weatherhead, "The East Asian Institute is a remarkable treasure. We look forward to working with President Rupp and Columbia's outstanding scholars and students to make the Institute an even more preeminent global resource for the benefit of mankind."
Founded in 1949, the East Asian Institute is Columbia's center for research and training on modern Asia, covering China, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea, and the countries of Southeast Asia. In its 50 years of existence, the Institute has trained many of the world's Asia experts in the humanities, social sciences, and professions, and has been a major contributor to current understanding of the region.
Speaking on behalf of the Institute's faculty, Director Madeleine Zelin said, "Working with the Weatherhead Foundation has been a wonderful experience. They have encouraged us to think broadly and are providing the means to look beyond today's disciplinary structures, so as to ensure that we will be ahead of the issues that will confront the region in the future."
According to David H. Cohen, vice president for Arts and Sciences, "The income from the endowment provided by the Weatherhead Foundation contributes in a most significant way to supporting graduate students in East Asian Studies, in addition to supporting the East Asian Institute itself. This is essential to Columbia's ability to attract the very best students in East Asian Studies, an important area in which the University enjoys considerable eminence."
Among the initiatives to be supported by the Fund is the Weatherhead Fellows Program. It will provide support to students working in Asia-related fields who are nominated by their departments, with final selections being made by a faculty committee of the East Asian Institute. The awards will help create a community of young scholars whose work is breaking new ground in a full range of disciplines and professions.
In order to nurture the Fellows' individual development, and to stimulate dialogue among scholars and students with different areas of interest and expertise, the Weatherhead Fellows Program will support a series of guest lectures and lunches that provide opportunities to share research and scholarship.
Also to be introduced with support from the endowment are Weatherhead Summer Internships, for students with combined East Asian and functional expertise in traditionally under-compensated fields such as public health, human rights, environmental protection, and economic development. In addition, Weatherhead Training Grants will promote academic expertise that crosses traditional boundaries by supporting a number of Ph.D. students as they acquire new skills, explore research opportunities in East Asia, and fashion new methods of inquiry into the region and the challenges it faces.
Future plans also call for the program to include visiting professors and post-doctoral fellows who will contribute both to the intellectual activities of the program and to the Institute's collaborative research programs. For the coming year, the endowment will support the launch of a new East Asian Institute collaborative research program and the creation of a new publication series to be named in honor of Richard W. Weatherhead.