Founded in 1970 at a time when only three to four percent of liberal arts schools had such a program, Wittenberg's East Asian Studies (EAS) program continues to stand as one of the preeminent academic programs in the nation.
"No other peer school can offer such a distinguished curriculum covering language, religion, classical civilization, philosophy, history and culture of all the major East Asian civilizations -- China, Japan, and to some extent Korea," wrote Timothy Cheek and James Scott, who reviewed the program 10 years ago. "To lose this program would be to lose one of the major intellectual assets that defines Wittenberg's uniqueness in the liberal arts."
Today, those same reviewers would undoubtedly praise the program again, as it has continued to provide students with extended and deep encounters with non-Western civilization. Just this past year, the university established the first-ever East Asian Institute, a Small Business Administration grant-funded initiative that marries the historic strengths of Wittenberg's EAS program with its business and economic programs but with a focus on international business in Asia.
Although the number of EAS faculty may fluctuate based on course offerings, there are currently 15 faculty members teaching courses in 40 majors and seven minors. More than a dozen seniors are currently enrolled in the Senior Seminar class as well.
Since its creation, the program has graduated more than 400 EAS majors, most of whom are employed or in graduate school immediately after Commencement, thanks in part to the expansive network of contacts and connections established by the program's faculty and extended further with the new East Asian Institute, which has set up Executive-in-Residence programs where students can learn from leading innovators in the field.
“Our alums truly do just about everything," Oldstone-Moore said. "Professionally, some go on to top grad schools and university positions. Others go into business, banking, law, social work, real estate, teaching, journalism, industry, or government service."
"Students have an emotional attachment to this program," Swanger once said. "They take pride in it."
The campus takes pride in the program as well, which Saturday's 40th anniversary celebration will illustrate as alumni, friends, students and colleagues return to celebrate what reviewers have called, "the jewel in Wittenberg's crown."
--Karen Gerboth '93