The University of Texas at Dallas has established the Center for Asian Studies, which expands its commitment to programs that previously were components of the University’s earlier initiatives, the Confucius Institute and the Asia Center. It will operate in tandem with the University’s Trammell and Margaret Crow Museum of Asian Art.
This new center, reporting to Provost Inga Musselman, will be led by founding director Dr. Dennis Kratz. Kratz is leaving the position of dean of the School of Arts and Humanities that he has held for 22 years to take up responsibilities as senior associate provost. In his new position, he will join with other UT Dallas leaders in planning and developing support for a proposed new arts and performance complex that will encompass the Crow Museum and a new performance hall, while also directing the new center.
“This new Center for Asian Studies will provide a larger perspective on Asia,” Kratz said. “Our goal is to build a substantial academic institute devoted to the study of Asian culture, economics and history, and the interaction of Asia with America.
“If you study the history of America, you will discover a tendency toward misinformation and misunderstanding about Asia and the nature of Americans of Asian ancestry. It’s vitally important to promote a more realistic, fair and empathetic understanding of this region and of this community.”
Kratz, who holds the Ignacy and Celina Rockover Professorship, said he sees the center as a place for research — a hub that will support collaboration among faculty members and students across disciplines, academic fields and interests of all UT Dallas schools.
He said that beyond scholarly research, the center will host lectures, cultural events, concerts, roundtable discussions, seminars and conferences.
Kratz said the center’s expanded programs and its location on the Richardson campus, near several Asian American communities, will enhance cultural fluency and literacy.
“We are making a serious commitment to listening and highlighting the contributions of Asian communities — those near us and those across the globe,” he said. “Every journey begins with the first step, and this will be a long journey toward the goal of international learning and dialogue.”
The creation of the new center comes on the heels of a spectacular gift to UT Dallas from the Trammell and Margaret Crow family. The collection of the Trammell and Margaret Crow Museum of Asian Art was donated to UT Dallas late last year, along with $23 million for a museum on campus.
Amy Lewis Hofland, senior director of the Crow Museum, sees many opportunities for the center and the museum to collaborate on various projects.
“We envision creating innovative programs together that highlight the strengths of the museum, the University and Asian communities,” she said. “I’m excited that celebrating and honoring Asian cultures will become a more visible part of UT Dallas.”
Dr. Charles Ku, former board member of the Crow Museum and former president of the Greater Dallas Taiwanese Chamber of Commerce, said Asian communities are excited about the new center.
“Asia is now so important, in regards to trade, population and technology. We need to understand, to learn from and to communicate with Asia,” he said. “A great university is not complete without a center for Asian studies.”