On April 16, 2013, Mansfield Freeman Professor of East Asian Studies invited the Freeman Asian scholars on campus to tea with her in the Freeman East Asian Studies Center to discuss the current state of the Freeman Asian Scholar program and its future. Turnout was good, as 26 of Freeman scholars, from varying class years and different countries attended. The conversation was very fruitful, and Professor Schwarcz shared many valuable insights about the program and ideas for future projects. The topics discussed were as follows:
I) The Contributions of Freeman Scholars
Professor Schwarcz complimented Freeman Scholars on their intelligence and creativity and believe they made valuable contributions to her classes.
II) History of the Freeman Asian Scholar Program
Professor Schwarcz shared how Mansfield Freeman, who lived during a time of weakened US-China relations saw a need to reconnect the USA with China and Asia in order for the West to learn about Asia. Hence, he provided support to Wesleyan’s East Asian Studies program.
Meanwhile Houghton “Buck” Freeman, Mr. Mansfield’s son who was born and grew up in Asia, had a vision of how much Asian countries would benefit from their youth receiving a liberal arts education as rigorous as the one he received at Wesleyan. He thus set up the Freeman Foundation and started the Freeman Asian Scholarship program to provide scholarships to outstanding students from 11 different East and Southeast Asian countries.
III) Aims of the Freeman Asian Scholar Program
a) Cultivating young Asian leaders capable of critical thinking and knowledgeable about America.
b) Providing these young Asian leaders with the opportunity to broaden their personal and intellectual horizons through a liberal arts education at Wesleyan and equipping them with the skills and knowledge to effectively serve their homelands in the future.
c) To enhance the cultural and intellectual diversity of the Wesleyan student body.
IV) Current Challenges
Professor Schwarcz shared about some of the current challenges the program is facing, such as the financial sustainability of the program in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis.
V) Cultivating Allies
Professor Schwarcz stressed the need to cultivate allies of the Freeman Asian Scholarship program, both on campus and off, who could contribute in various ways to the future sustainability of the program.
VI) Freeman Alumni Engagement
Professor Schwarcz emphasized the importance of cultivating relations with Freeman Asian scholar alumni. Some of the suggestions on how to do so were:
a) WeSeminars presented by people connected to the Freeman program
b) Alumni newsletter
VII) 20th Anniversary of the Freeman Asian scholar program
The Freeman program will be turning 20 in Fall 2015! Professor Schwarcz suggested producing a souvenir book to commemorate the occasion. The book should be well designed and can incorporate submissions from alumni. Preparations for the 20th anniversary should commence now. The 20th anniversary can be a cause around which to rally Freeman alumni support and reengage them actively.
Minute taken by Hannah Ang ’16, edited by Julian Theseira ’14