Department Of Education Awards $2.4M To Fund U. Maryland Asian American Studies

This story was written by Jeanette Der Bedrosian, The Diamondback
The U.S. Department of Education has awarded the university $2.4 million and the status of a "minority-serving institution" for Asian-Americans and related groups, according to a University of Marylandnews release.

The designation, announced in late July but only recently accepted, means the university will "potentially [give] added weight ... to any request for federal funding" geared toward Asian-American studies, according to the release.

To be eligible for the status, an institution must have at least 10 percent of its student body as Asian-Americans, American Indians or Pacific Islanders. Fourteen percent of the students at this university identify with one of those ethnicities.

Only five other schools - none of which are public research institutions - were awarded the status. Other winners, many of which are community colleges, are the University of Guam, the City College of San Francisco, Foothill-De Anza Community College in Silicon Valley, South Seattle Community College and University of Hawaii at Hilo, said Larry Shinagawa, director of the university's Asian American Studies Program.

And the university received approximately twice the monetary award given to the other awardees, Shinagawa added.

"It's something that the government has recognized," Shinagawa said. "They have historically recognized historically black colleges, Hispanic colleges and universities and Native American tribal colleges. And now what they have decided to do is recognize institutions that serve a significant portion of Asian-American students."

The status comes after the Asian American Studies Program was created in 2000 to allow students of all ethnicities to learn about Asian and Asian-American issues.

"This represents a major advance for the university, a tangible marker of our vital and growing diversity," said Dean of Undergraduate Studies Donna Hamilton in the press release. "It is also a marker of the program's rapid expansion, which is quickly becoming one of the best in the nation."

The funding will be used to expand the course offering in Asian American Studies, especially CORE courses, and to conduct reports on different Asian-American subgroups, Shinagawa said.

More and more Asian-American students have been attending the university since the late 1980s, Shinagawa added, with noticeable increases occurring each consecutive year.

"Every single year, there has been a substantial jump in the numbers," he said. "You can gauge as the ranking of the University of Maryland increase[s], I'm absolutely sure that there will be a higher percentage of Asian-American students who will attend the university, because I suspect they want to attend the better institutions."

Senior psychology major Vivian Ling said she sees the high number of Asian-American groups and organizations on the campus as an example of how the university serves its minority students.

"There are a pretty good amount of Asian organizations on campus, and they're all prett well-funded," she said.

Shinagawa said the status will benefit all students, not just Asian-American students.

"I think it's very important for all students to be exposed to some of Asian and Asian-American history and culture," he added.

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