Faculty, Student, and Alumni News

Linda Gallery in Bejing opens "The Lonely Horizon: Gao Minglu during the 1970s" exhibit

On Tuesday, June 16, Linda Gallery in the 798 arts district of Beijing held the opening for the exhibition “The Lonely Horizon: Gao Minglu during the 1970s.” The exhibition includes almost 120 drawings and paintings from his time as a sent-down youth in Inner-Mongolia, his time as a student and teacher at Ulanqab Normal Academy in Uangab City (Jining as it’s old name), and his travels before beginning his graduate education at China Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing in early 1980s. It also includes important archival documents such as pages from his notebooks and photographs of him as a young herdsman, teacher, and scholar. The works include lively sketches, watercolor studies, and oil paintings of Mongolians, villagers, Tibetans, his students and friends as well as landscapes and city scenes along the Yellow River, Yangzi River, Shanghai and other places. Primarily done in a Russian Realist style, these works not only reveal much about Professor Gao’s personal biography, but also about the popular art trends just after the Cultural Revolution.  Also on display will be the documentary ’85 New Waves, made by former CCTV director Li Shaowu and Professor Gao. This documentary chronicles the ’85 movement in China, a pivotal period in contemporary Chinese art, largely remembered thanks to Professor Gao’s support and documentation of its participants and their projects. The opening was packed with Professor Gao’s students from different periods (1970s to the present) in China and abroad, closest family and friends, important contemporary artists including the ’85 generation, such as Song Yongping, Wang Guangyi, Xu Bing, Ren Jian, and important curators and critics such as Fan Di’an, the current president of CAFA. The United States Ambassador to China, Max Baucus, and his wife also attended, receiving a personal tour by Professor Gao himself. The Ambassador shared the same interest and experience with a herdsman’s life on the grassland because he grew up in Montana. The exhibition will be on display until July 20, 2015.

Dr. Patricia E. Beeson, Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor, University of Pittsburgh and Dr. Nicole Constable, Director of Asian Studies Center visit

Dr. Patricia E. Beeson, the Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor (right), and Dr. Nicole Constable, the Director of Asian Studies Center(left), both from University of Pittsburgh, paid a courtesy call to Hiroko Tsuka, the Executive Vice President of the Japan Foundation (center). They exchanged information and their views on the Japanese Studies in the U.S.

James Hommes, Pitt Alumnus, awarded Toshiba International Foundation 2015 Outstanding Prize

James Hommes, Ph.D. graduate of History, was one of the winners of the Toshiba International Foundation annual essay contest. This year’s subject was “The message that Japan should send out to the world in 2020.”  Essayists were asked to consider what Japan needs to reform, what it should preserve as a country, and what does the world expect of Japan. To qualify for entry, young researchers must be engaged in Japanese studies and be enrolled or have completed a doctoral program. The goal of the contest is to promote Japanese studies overseas. The winners will be invited to receive their awards at a ceremony in Tokyo this spring.

In Memoriam: Chiao-Min Hsieh

A generous donation was given to the Asian Studies Center by the Hsieh family in memory of emeritus professor of Geology and Planetary Science at the University of Pittsburgh, Professor Chiao-Min Hsieh.

Dr. Hsieh joined the faculty of the University of Pittsburgh in 1969 and taught geography courses for 23 years.  His academic research focused on East Asia, and he authored numerous publications including China Ageless Land and Countless PeopleChanging China: a Geographic Appraisal, and his last book Race the Rising Sun: A Chinese University's Exodus during the Second World War, which he co-wrote with his wife, Jean Kan Hsieh, an accomplished poet of Chinese classical poetry. Dr. Hsieh was awarded a Fulbright Research Professorship three times and was a senior fellow for the National Endowment for the Humanities. He had a passion for creating atlases focusing on the natural, cultural, political, and historical features of China. Throughout his life, Dr. Hsieh was a true scholar spending much time in the Hillman Library and eventually donating nearly 60 years of his diaries to their collection. A memorial fund has been established in his honor to fund faculty research and travel to Asia.

Thomas G. Rawski and James Cook recognized for outstanding contributions to China studies

Professor Thomas G. Rawski (Economics) and James Cook, Associate Director for the Asian Studies Center, have been recognized for their contributions in the field of China studies. Professor Rawski has been named by the China Foreign Affairs University (CFAU) as one of America’s “Top 20” China Experts.  CFAU is the leading diplomatic school in China, and it ranks American China experts based upon a complex metric that assesses knowledge and their “ability to present a reasonable and accurate picture” of China and Chinese-American relations.  The report naming Professor Rawski stressed the deep understanding of the People’s Republic that all finalists displayed through their own first-hand research in China.

Professor Cook was named by the China’s Ministry of Education as a “Distinguished Overseas Educator”.  Nominated by Shaanxi Normal University, Dr. Cook has completed several grants sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the China Medical Board in cooperation with the Center for Historical Environment and Socioeconomics Development of Northwest China and the Center for Experimental Economics in Education at Shaanxi Normal.  His work brings Chinese and American researchers together to solve critical environmental and public health issues in northwestern China.

In Memoriam: Dr. Albert Van Dusen

Dr. Van Dusen was an extraordinary leader at the University of Pittsburgh for nearly three decades. He traveled the globe establishing international partnerships in program development and exchange opportunities. Around 1970, Dr. Van Dusen, then Secretary of the Board of Trustees, ventured to Japan along with the Director of Asian Studies to appeal for the program. Through his remarkable advocacy, he was able to secure program development funds from C. Itoh and then $1 million each from the Japan Iron and Steel Federation and the Mitsubishi group, thereby creating the enduring Japanese studies endowment funds at the University of Pittsburgh. In the 1980s, he embarked on a grand sweep of Asia fostering relationships with universities in China, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Korea.  The Asian Studies Center continues to thrive and grow due to the seeds of support he generously cultivated in many parts of Asia. He will fondly be remembered as a gentleman of exceptional kindness, wisdom, a role model for hard work, and a great sense of humor.

Pitt hosts the Pittsburgh Asian Consortium's third annual Undergraduate Asian Studies Research Conference, Saturday, February 21, 2015

On February 21, 2015, the University of Pittsburgh will host the Pittsburgh Asia Consortium's (PAC) third annual Undergraduate Asian Studies Research Conference. The conference, located in the Cathedral of Learning, will begin at 8 a.m. and end at 4 p.m.

The Pittsburgh Asia Consortium (PAC) Undergraduate Research Conference is a one-day, interdisciplinary event for students from PA, WV, OH, MD, NY, NJ, and DE with an interest in any geographical region of Asia, including the Middle East. Students will give a 15-minute presentation on Asia-related research topics from any discipline, with faculty from PAC overseeing each student panel. First time presenters are welcome!

Students will meet other undergraduates and faculty with an academic interest in Asian Studies from throughout the region, and enjoy a keynote presentation by Michael Meyer, author of Last Days of Old Beijing: Life in the Vanishing Backstreets of a City Transformed and In Manchuria: A Village Called Wasteland and the Transformation of Rural China and assistant professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh. A banquet lunch will be provided. Registration is free, but required at http://tinyurl.com/PAC-UGRC-2015. The deadline is February 13.



Pitt's Asian Studies Center receives Title VI funding for Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships from the US Department of Education

Pitt’s Asian Studies Center has received funding from the US Department of Education for six graduate and four undergraduate academic-year Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships, as well as seven Summer FLAS awards to be used for intensive language study equivalent to a full academic year.  The academic year Fellowships cover full tuition and provide stipends of $18,000 (for graduate students) and $5,000 (for undergraduate students).  The Summer FLAS language awards cover $5000 of the awardee’s tuition at an approved program overseas or in the US, and also offer a stipend of $2500.

The aim of the FLAS Fellowship program is to develop a pool of international experts to meet the national needs of the United States, and as such, these fellowships may only be awarded to US citizens or US permanent residents.  To be eligible for these awards, academic year Fellows must be enrolled in a language course as well as an area studies course related to their language of study, in each of the two semesters of the Fellowship.  Summer FLAS applicants need to have their chosen programs approved by the Asian Studies Center. 

ASC FLAS Fellowships will be awarded for the study of Chinese and Japanese at the third-year level or above, and for the study of Korean and Uzbek at the first-year level or above.  Information and application forms are posted on our Asian Studies Center website.

MJ Akbar visits Pitt

The Asian Studies Center was pleased to welcome leading Indian journalist, prolific author, and spokesperson for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Mobashar Jawad "MJ" Akbar during the fall 2014. The former editor of The Telegraph, The Asian Age, and The Sunday Guardian, Mr. Akbar met with student and faculty groups and presented a lecture entitled "India After the 2014 Elections" to a large audience. His speech focused on the deep unhappiness fo India's youth (54% of the population), and how the BJP is working to reform the decades-old administrative system that has governed India since independence. He asserted that the development of a secular society focused on new opportunities developing in Asia is one key to India's future happiness.

The University of Pittsburgh Marks Signing of Memorandum of Understanding with Indonesian College of Performing Arts with a Free Public Concert

A memorandum of understanding will be signed Oct. 10 between the University of Pittsburgh and the Indonesian College of Performing Arts in Bandung, West Java, launching a partnership designed to further the two schools' common objectives of research and study in the field of Indonesian music and culture.
To mark the new relationship, Pitt's Department of Music is hosting for several days a delegation of 20 administrators, scholars, musicians, and dancers from West Java, many of whom will witness the document signing.
The private signing event will take place between 12:30 and 2 p.m. in the main dining room on the first floor of the Pittsburgh Athletic Association, 4215 Fifth Ave., Oakland. Guests include Budi Bowoleksono, the ambassador of Indonesia to the U.S. in Washington, D.C.; Hon. Ghafur Akbar Dharmaputra, consul general of the Republic of Indonesia in New York; Indonesian College of Performing Arts director Een Herdiani, as well as eight of the school's faculty members. A representative from Pittsburgh's Office of the Mayor also will attend.
The visiting performers will present a free public concert at 8 p.m. Oct. 11.
"Music and Dance of West Java: The Past, Present, and Future of Sundanese Performing Arts" will take place in Bellefield Hall’s auditorium, 315 S.
Bellefield Ave., Oakland.
The group also will conduct private workshops for Pitt students taking courses in world music and gamelan, a musical ensemble students may participate in for credit through the Department of Music. Gamelan is a large orchestra that includes tuned gongs, metal-keyed instruments, and drums.
Pitt's Department of Music owns two gamelan sets, and the University Gamelan Ensemble holds a major concert every year that includes guest performers from Indonesia.
Department of Music Chair Andrew Weintraub, who has collaborated on projects with the Indonesian College for 30 years, says the partnership will bring about an exchange of students and creative artists and will enhance the exploration and understanding of Sundanese culture and performing arts, a core strength of Pitt's ethnomusicology program.
"Stronger relationships lead to better understanding of cultural diversity, and vice versa," he said. "A formal agreement between Pitt and the Indonesian College will facilitate better communication between the two schools. Our goal is to generate collaborative research projects, a student exchange at the graduate and undergraduate levels, and, eventually, the development of a Pitt in Indonesia study abroad program."
Prior to their visit to the Pitt campus, the group of scholars and musicians will visit Washington, D.C., where some will perform and participate in a mini symposium at the Smithsonian Institution.
The celebration marking the signing of the memorandum is sponsored by the Department of Music, the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, Pitt's Asian Studies Center, the Indonesian government, and the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia, Washington, D.C.
(Text of press release by Sharon Blake)