The University of North Carolina’s College of Arts and Sciences has reportedly begun its hiring process for three new faculty members who will be taking charge of its Asian American studies.
Key details: The three new faculty members, called Asian Americanists, will handle different subject matters as part of the course.
One of the professors, who specializes in Asian American history, will work in the history department, followed by another professor specializing in pop culture to be assigned to the American studies department, and the last one, with a specialty in the South Asian diaspora, will be assigned to the English department.
Answering the call: Geneva Collins, director of communications for the college, on behalf of UNC College of Arts and Sciences Dean Jim White, told The Daily Tar Heel that the hiring effort was a response to the student-made petition launched by the Students for Asian American Studies at UNC (SAAS) in February.
The petition demanded the university to expand the Asian American Center and to “establish a degree-oriented Asian American Studies program” at UNC.
How they learned: Joanna Yeh, a UNC junior and executive member of SAAS, told The Daily Tar Heel that they only heard of the details after a meeting with the dean on Sept. 15. Yeh noted that the hiring process was a cluster hire, or “hiring faculty from different departments to research and teach on a broad topic.”
What the future holds: Although UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences has already begun the hiring process, Yeh said that, even after asking the university, there was still no guarantee that UNC would establish an Asian American Studies major or minor.
“The general feeling we got from the meeting was that they don’t really have a plan yet because a lot of these types of things move very slowly,” Yeh said.
The big picture: UNC’s latest move is part of a growing demand at universities across the country to offer or expand their Asian American studies. Some universities, such as Fordham University in the Bronx, New York, and Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, have already launched programs in answer to the demand.
Fordham University reportedly began offering a minor in Asian American Studies in April, while Williams College set up its program in December. San Diego State University also announced in May it was hiring new faculty members for its first-ever Asian American Studies department.