University breaking barriers, ground

Online Poster

Online Poster

By Nick Zombolas

The University continued its efforts to promote cultural diversity with the groundbreaking of the Asian American Cultural Center Wednesday.

The center is being constructed at 1210 W. Nevada St. in Urbana and will be physically connected to the Asian American Studies Building, said Interim Chancellor Richard Herman.

“I know our campus and all our students will be the beneficiaries (of the project),” he said.

Herman is responsible for approving the funding for the $1.3 million project, which is scheduled to be completed in seven months. He also recommended joining the Cultural Center with the Asian American Studies Building.

Pat Askew, vice chancellor of student affairs, said building an establishment where the Asian community can come together has always been a goal of the University.

The new center will help the campus learn more about the diversity of the Asian culture, said David Chih, assistant dean of students for Asian Pacific American Affairs.

The building is mapped out to have three floors including a basement that will be used as storage for student organizations. A conference room, living room, receptionist area and kitchen will occupy the first floor. The second floor will house another conference room – an open area for students to work and meet with others – and staff offices.

After the center’s opening in the fall of 2005, students will be able to hold meetings, use computers to plan programs and hold workshops in the facility.

Herman said he has high expectations for the work that will be done in collaboration with the Cultural Center.

“I look forward keenly to what this new model will make possible,” he said.

Interim Provost Jesse Delia said he thinks the Cultural Center will be a welcoming and supportive place.

“It is a true partnership of student and academic affairs,” Delia said.

The services of the Cultural Center will include the interaction of students from different backgrounds in order to encourage the understanding of different culture identities.

Tina Wei, co-director of the Asian Pacific American Coalition and sophomore in LAS, said the new facility will play a strong part in the APAC’s program.

“It will better represent the campus and the University of Illinois as a whole,” said James Lien, sophomore in business and the other co-director of the APAC.

In addition to existing programs, the Cultural Center will offer mentoring programs and leadership awards, as well as courses offered through the Asian American Studies Building. Mentoring will focus on the development of undergraduate Asian-American students. Leadership awards will be given to students who show a high level of dedication to the Asian-American community.

Once everyone had spoken, Herman, Askew, Chih, Delia, Wei, Lien and others took part in shoveling an area of dirt, completing the groundbreaking ceremony.

The next large event held by the Asian American Studies Program will be in collaboration with the College of Law, Wei said. The three-day conference is scheduled to take place in February and will focus on Asian Americans and the law.