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Hmong Studies Initiative under way at UW-Eau Claire

April 30, 2013

Editor's Note: UW-Eau Claire will host a reception to celebrate the Hmong Studies Steering Committee from 3:30-5 p.m. Wednesday, May 1, in the penthouse of Hibbard Hall. The media are welcome to attend.

EAU CLAIRE — The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire is taking its first steps toward establishing an interdisciplinary Hmong Studies program.

"We want to take the lead nationally in Hmong Studies," said Interim Chancellor Gilles Bousquet, who has appointed a steering committee to help guide the effort. "We are fortunate because we have so much interest on our campus in making this happen.

"We already have students, faculty, staff and community members with the vision and commitment we need to become a center of excellence in Hmong Studies. Our institution is grateful to all of them for their dedication and intellectual engagement in this area. The UW-Eau Claire Hmong Studies Steering Committee will build on their groundbreaking efforts."

Focusing on Hmong Studies makes sense given the significant number of Hmong living in Wisconsin and throughout the Midwest, Bousquet said, noting that the number of Hmong students studying at UW-Eau Claire continues to grow.

"This is a key population on our campus and in our region so we have important local connections," Bousquet said. "Many Hmong living in our region also have global connections, which also is important to this initiative. This is going to be an example of bringing UW-Eau Claire to the world, and the world to UW-Eau Claire."

The Hmong Studies Steering Committee is an important part of UW-Eau Claire's effort to broaden its focus on Asian studies, said Provost Patricia A. Kleine.

"As Asia plays an increasingly important role in all aspects of the global economy, we are looking for ways to enhance and expand our academic programs to ensure UW-Eau Claire students are better prepared to understand this vast continent and its people," Kleine said.

The Hmong Studies Steering Committee will bring speakers and scholars to campus with expertise in Hmong Studies; host scholarly conferences or workshops around Hmong Studies; host an annual campus-community event around Hmong Studies; and support and expand Hmong language offerings.

The newly appointed steering committee — which includes multiple students — will further develop the program, Bousquet said.

 "Students led the development of the initiative to build a Hmong Studies program at UW-Eau Claire, and they will continue to be an integral part of Hmong Studies as it becomes more established at this university," Bousquet said.

Steering Committee members include:

  • Dr. Ari Anand, an assistant professor of geography and anthropology, who will chair the committee.
  • Choua Xiong, student.
  • Mai Neng Vang, student.
  • Mong Xiong, student.
  • Ong Xiong, student.
  • Dr. Christin DePouw, assistant professor of education studies.
  • Dr. Incho Lee, assistant professor of education studies.
  • Dr. David Shih, associate professor of English.
  • Dr. Ezra Zeitler, assistant professor of geography and anthropology.
  • Dr. Annalisa DeGrave, director of Latin American Studies.
  • Dr. Debra Barker, director of American Indian Studies.
  • Caitlin Lee, EEO specialist from the Affirmative Action office.
  • Charles Vue, assistant director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs.
  • Jodi Thesing-Ritter, associate dean, Dean of Students office.
  • Dr. Carter Smith, chair of the foreign language department.
  • Dr. Kate Lang, chair of the history department.
  • Dr. Wayne Carroll, chair of the economics department.
  • Dr. Geoff Peterson, chair of the political science department.

"Hmong Studies can greatly enrich students' experiences, the campus and the greater Eau Claire community," the Hmong Studies Initiative Student Committee said in a statement about the appointment of a Hmong Studies Steering Committee. "It is our hope that the steering committee will shape Hmong Studies in a critical way to analyze the historical, political, social and economic circumstances and structures that have impacted Hmong people across the globe."

For more information about the Hmong Studies Steering Committee, contact Interim Chancellor Gilles Bousquet at 715-836-2327 or





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