May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month

Dear Colleagues,

May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month – a celebration of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. At UCI, we acknowledge the contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in advancing our mission as a public research university proudly serving the residents of Orange County and the state of California.

At the center of this mission is the School of Humanities’ Department of Asian American Studies. Established in 2002, it’s one of four such departments in the University of California system. The faculty, who are drawn from the arts, humanities, social ecology and social sciences, mount an interdisciplinary academic program that explores social, cultural, political and artistic aspects of these diverse communities. I would like to take a moment to share what a few of our outstanding colleagues are currently doing on and off campus.

Literature and culture scholar James Kyung-Jin Lee, associate professor and chair of Asian American studies, has served on the editorial board of The Health Anthology of American Literature and the advisory board of the Journal of Transnational American Studies. In July, professor Judy Wu, an expert in Asian American and transnational history, will succeed Lee. Additionally, professor Linda Trinh Vo, a former department chair, is the current president of the national Association for Asian American Studies.

Last year, university librarian Lorelei Tanji opened the Orange County & Southeast Asian Archive Center as part of the UCI Libraries. This extraordinary center documents and preserves the rich regional history and the diasporic experience of the Southeast Asian American community. It’s led by archivist Thuy Vo Dang, who co-authored the 2015 book Vietnamese in Orange County – an in-depth look at the transformational role Vietnamese Americans have played in shaping local culture, economics and politics. I highly encourage you to explore all the center has to offer.

UCI also celebrates the addition of Jade Agua, the new director of the Cross-Cultural Center. In this position, she is responsible for “creating and maintaining a socially just campus, fostering the cultural identities within the campus community and providing opportunities for intellectual exchange, leadership development and community engagement.” Prior to joining UCI, she served as program director at Santa Clara University’s Office for Multicultural Learning.

As we observe Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, I am delighted to announce that the U.S. Department of Education recently named UCI an Asian American & Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution. This designation reflects not only the diversity of our undergraduate population and the surrounding communities, but also our reputation as a national leader in providing affordable education to first-generation and low-income families. UCI is the only UC campus – and the first member of the Association of American Universities – to possess this distinction.


Douglas M. Haynes, Ph.D.
Vice Provost for Academic Equity, Diversity & Inclusion