Kansas University’s Center for East Asian Studies turned 50 this week.
Retired and current faculty, graduate students and other friends of the program gathered to celebrate the achievement on Friday.
“As a group, we’re really proud of the accomplishments of both the center and the East Asian languages and cultures department and the East Asian faculty who are scattered in departments all over campus,” said Megan Greene, director of the Center for East Asian Studies. “We have done a lot in order to sort of bring East Asia into the curriculum here and to the community.”
Felix Moos and Grant Goodman are both original faculty members, and they say the center has come a long way.
“We had a very curious collection of people in a Quonset hut back behind Strong Hall,” said Goodman, who came to the center in 1961.
“One of our professors of Chinese kept an alligator in his office,” Goodman recalled. “We had another man who used to hold press conferences once a week.”
While those present reflected on the center’s accomplishments, others close to the program said there is still a lot of work to be done. “If you think about that there are now about 100,000 Chinese students studying in the United States but only about 13,000 American students studying in China, I wouldn’t call that a wonderful record, so obviously in some ways we have a long way to go,” Moos said.
Moos says it’s great that so many people have become interested in China and its culture and hopes the center builds on that in the future.