Program Building

Program Building - 1999-2010


This chapter illuminates both the visible and invisible work of students, faculty, staff, and university administrators who built IU Bloomington's Asian American Studies program.  Several years before AAST’s official launch in September 2008, university members create an Asian American Studies Committee to write a program proposal.  In turn, the AAST Committee receive proposal writing, funding, and political support from Asian American student organizations, senior-level administrators, department chairs, directors of the Latino Cultural Center and Afro-American Studies program, and other Asian American Studies programs within the Midwest.  IUB’s AAST acknowledges the significant contributions of its university, Bloomington, and Midwest allies.


July 4, 1999—White Supremist Murders IUB Graduate Student Won-Joon Yoon

Benjamin Smith, a former IUB student and self-identified white supremacist, goes on a three-day shooting spree across Indiana and Illinois. He kills IUB graduate student Won-Joon Yoon and former Northwestern University men's basketball coach Ricky Byrdsong. He injures several others.  According to Asian Culture Center Director Melanie Castillo-Cullather, Yoon’s murder demonstrates the need for an AAST program to educate the campus community about racial violence and Asian American issues.(3)

Memorial to Won-Joon Yoon outside of the Korean United Methodist Church where he was shot on Independence Day, 1999

October 2001—IUB Student Leaders Mobilize Campus-Wide Support for an Asian American Studies Program

Caroline Shin (IUB PhD candidate, AAST Committee member) and Chris Sinclair (IUB undergraduate student, 2001-2002 President, Asian American Association) host a mass student meeting to advocate for an AAST program.  At the request of IUB administrators, Shin and Sinclair collect evidence of campus-wide support including a signed petition as well as letters of support from IU Asian Alumni Association Board of Directors and African American and Latino student organizations.(6)

Caroline Shin ... and Chris Sinclair ... host a mass student meeting to advocate for an AAST program. 

February 2002—IUB Dean of College of Arts and Sciences Defers Program Proposal as a Strategic Move

The AAST Committee meets with Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Kumble T. Subbaswamy, who backs the AAST program proposal.  Dean Subbaswamy, however, defers formal consideration of the AAST program to fall 2002.  He foresees the need to increase student interest in AAST in order to convince the Chancellor and the College of Arts and Sciences to approve the program.  The Dean and the AAST Committee agree to host an Asian American Studies colloquium series in 2002-2003 to generate campus attention to AAST.(8)

April 2002—IUB Dean of College Arts and Sciences Authorizes $10,000 for Asian American Studies Colloquium Series

Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Kumble T. Subbaswamy uses his political savviness to help the AAST Committee host an Asian American Studies colloquium series. He authorizes $10,000 of College of Arts and Sciences funding for “New Paradigms in Asian American Studies.” Dean Subbaswamy submits the AAST proposal for formal consideration to the College Policy Committee in IUB’s College of Arts and Sciences.(9)


[Dean Subbaswamy] authorizes $10,000 of College of Arts and Sciences funding for 'New Paradigms in Asian American Studies.'

September 20, 2002—IUB Launches Year-long Asian American Studies Colloquium

The AAST Committee kicks off “New Paradigms in Asian American Studies,” a year-long colloquium series to foster intellectual discussions on Asian American issues on campus and generate student enrollment in future AAST courses.  The AAST Committee invites Columbia University professor of International and Public Affairs Gary Okihiro, who lectures on his 1994 book Margins and Mainstreams. The College of Arts and Sciences, the Office of Academic Support and Diversity, the Asian Culture Center, and several other academic departments and programs sponsor this colloquium.(10)

September 27, 2002—IUB’s College of Arts and Sciences Approves Asian American Studies Program

The College Policy Committee—a faculty committee under the College of Arts and Sciences—unanimously approves AAST program proposal, thus allowing the AAST Committee to begin developing a formal program within the College of Arts and Sciences.(11)

2007-2008—Newly-Hired IUB Affiliate Faculty Expand AAST Course Offerings

Three affiliated faculty teach four Asian American Studies-related undergraduate courses and one graduate course during the fall and spring semester.  Dr. Ellen Wu, History, offers “Asian American History” (undergraduate), “Hawai’i and the United States” (undergraduate), and “Immigration, Race, and Nation in Modern America” (graduate).  Dr. Karen Inouye, American Studies, teaches two undergraduate courses: “Comparative American Identities: What is Asian America?” and “Democracy on the Home Front: Race and Labor from WWII and Beyond.” Dr. Denise Cruz, English, rolls out “Literatures in English, 1990-Present” and “American Literature, 1960-Present,” both undergraduate courses.(16)

Spring 2009—College Policy Committee Approves AAST Undergraduate Minor

Under Dr. Joan Pong Linton’s directorship, the College of Arts and Sciences College Policy Committee approves AAST’s undergraduate minor.(19)

Dr. Vivian Nun Halloran, AAST’s second program director, builds AAST through new course offerings, campus programming, and a digital presence.

Fall 2010—Dr. Vivian Nun Halloran Serves as Second AAST Director

Dr. Vivian Nun Halloran (Associate Professor, Comparative Literature), becomes the second director of IUB’s AAST program.  Dr. Halloran’s directorship focuses on the behind-the-scenes work of building the program.  Notably, she writes governance documents, secures AAST’s first physical office space (then located at 814 E. Third Street), and builds a digital presence through the program’s newly designed website and social media mediums.  She diversifies AAST’s course catalog with two Asian American literature courses at the introductory level (A200) and advanced level (A320).  She succeeds in having four AAST courses approved as General Education credit for the undergraduate core curriculum.  Finally, under her directorship, she institutes program traditions including the inaugural Asian American Studies Research Symposium and MOVEMENT: ASIAN/PACIFIC AMERICA annual film series in 2012.  Dr. Halloran serves as the director until Fall 2014.(22)