Asian American Studies begins faculty hiring process

Rebecca Tauber and RB Smith

Last spring, the committee on appointments and promotions (CAP) approved the creation of two new tenure-line positions in Asian American studies (AAS), and the search to fill one of these positions in the American Studies department began this fall. The search committee, led by Professor of American Studies Dorothy Wang, selected four finalists out of more than 40 applicants. The finalists’ on-campus interviews will begin this week.

“The search committee received a very robust number of applicants” said Denise Buell, dean of the faculty and chair of the CAP. “The committee tells me that the pool is extremely strong.” The faculty member who is eventually selected will be a senior-level hire, coming to the College with tenure. “The goal is to make an offer before the end of the semester and for this new faculty member to join the faculty July 1, 2020,” Buell said.

In February, a curricular planning committee (CPC) working group recommended the establishment of two tenure-track positions for faculty specializing in AAS, and the CAP officially submitted the requests in March.

The approvals came after a multi-year push from students and faculty to establish an AAS program at the College. While the most recent iteration of the AAS movement began in the past few years, Asian American students have been fighting for a concentration for over thirty years.

Suiyi Tang ’20, the oldest member of the movement for AAS still on campus and a Minority Coalition co-chair, expressed satisfaction with the progress on the faculty lines, but also cautioned against complacency. “What’s different now is never have we made it so far,” she said. “I think it’ll be really important for the campus to keep remembering that this movement is still underway… and to keep an eye on that so we can make sure that what’s been promised has been delivered and that we don’t die out halfway.” 

Looking to the future, Tang emphasized the importance of coalition building and supporting ethnic studies across disciplines. “We’re really interested in building political community,” she said. “In five years I hope to see a concentration, I’d like to see it thrive alongside Indigenous studies, Africana [studies] and Latinx studies, and I’d like to see it part of the vibrant interdisciplinary,” she said.

The second approved position is for a tenure-track faculty member in the religion department “with expertise in Asian American religions,” according to Buell. In preparation for this search, a symposium will be held this coming spring inviting six scholars to present their work in a small conference setting. The search for this position will begin in the fall of 2020, with the faculty member set to begin teaching in the fall of 2021.