A Chronology of East Asia and Wesleyan

Compiled by David A. Titus and Anthony Chambers, 1995; revised and updated by Stephen Angle, 2005.



1831: Wesleyan University is founded.
1834: The Wesleyan Missionary Lyceum is organized and focuses its attentions on China.
1854-62: Erastus Wentworth '37 serves as a missionary in China; he appears to have been Wesleyan's first "China hand."
1884: A collection of ethnological specimens from China is presented to the Wesleyan museum (now defunct) by the Reverend Marcus Lorenzo Taft '73, who served as a missionary in China 1880-88, 1890-94, 1896-99, and 1905-09.
1892: Jewsuke Shimata, Wesleyan's first Asian student, graduates. Born in Yamaguchi, Japan, he became Professor of English Language and Literature at Japan Women's University in 1902. He died in 1961 at the age of ninetyseven.
1906: Payson Treat, class of 1900, assumes the first professorship in Far Eastern History, created for him at Stanford.
1913: Joseph Beech '99 becomes the first president of West China Union University in Chengtu, Szechuan.
1914-1923: Wesleyan's first course bearing on East Asia, "Comparative Government," is taught by Mr. Wriston of the History Department; it includes consideration of China and Japan.
1945-1960: In addition to the courses listed below, nine courses relating to China or Japan are offered.
1958-64: Joseph Silverstein teaches a course on governments of Asia.
1958-65: David Abosch, a specialist in Japanese intellectual history, teaches Far Eastern history.
1959-68: David McAllester, Jan Miel and others teach a year-long course on the great books of the Far and Near East.
1966: Lawrence Olson, a specialist in modern Japan, is appointed Professor of History and Wesleyan embarks on a prolonged effort to develop the curriculum in East Asian studies.
1966: The Music Department expands its ethnomusicology program to include Japanese music performance (discontinued in 1979).
1967: The Department of Asian Languages and Literatures is established and Japanese language instruction is begun by Carl Sesar.
1968: A position in Chinese history is established, occupied first by James Millinger and since 1975 by Vera Schwarcz.
1971: The Wesleyan Asian Students Party is organized, crystalizing demand for more courses and a major on East Asia.
1972: Chinese language instruction begins, with the appointment of Frances Mao Sheng.
1972: Wesleyan and a consortium of other colleges establishes the Associated Kyoto Program at Doshisha University, and the AKP is designated an official Wesleyan study-abroad program.
1972: The first Asia House, a residence for some ten students interested in Asia, is established.
1973: The East Asian Studies major, proposed by Lawrence Olson and supported by gifts to the university from Mansfield Freeman '16, is established, with five majors.
1975: The first Freeman Prize for excellence in East Asian Studies is awarded to Leonard J. Linden.
1975: The first Mansfield Freeman Lecture takes place, with Frederic Wakeman speaking on "The Past Must Serve the Present: Mao Tse-tung's Use of History"
1977: Janice Willis is appointed to the Religion Department, Wesleyan's first specialist in Buddhism.
1979: With a grant from the Japan Foundation, a position in Asian art is established and Jonathan Best is appointed. Yoshiko Yokochi Samuel is appointed to teach Japanese language and literature.
1981: A position in Chinese literature (initially half-time, now fulll-time) is established, and Ellen Widmer is appointed.
1982: Colin and Nancy Campbell, escorted by David Titus, make their first trip to Japan to attend the festivities marking the tenth anniversary of the Associated Kyoto Program. 
1984: Colin and Nancy Campbell visit China with Vera Schwarcz, Jason Wolfe, and Frances Sheng, and establish an exchange program between Wesleyan and Huazhong University of Science and Technology.
1985: With support from the Program, Robert Stone '85 participates in the 37th Japan-America Student Conference, and the Program commits itself to regular financial aid to students attending the conference.
1986: The first Wesleyan reunion in Japan is held at International House in Tokyo.
1987: The Emperor of Japan confers the Order of the Sacred Treasure Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon to Lawrence Olson, Professor of History
1987: Inauguration of Mansfield Freeman Center for East Asian Studies.
1994: With support from the Freeman family, a full-time position is created in Confucianism; Stephen Angle is apppointed to the Philosophy Department, the first specialist in non-Western philosophy at Wesleyan.
1995: Freeman Family Japanese Garden opened.
1995: Freeman Asian Scholar Program begun, providing scholarship support to undergraduate students from 11 East and Southeast Asian countries.
2002: With support from the Luce Foundation, a full-time position is created in East Asian Economics; Masami Imai is apppointed to the Economics Department.
2006: Mansfield Freeman Center for East Asian Studies expanded to include a new lecture hall and updated collection storage
2014: The College of East Asian Studies formed by merging the Mansfield Freeman Center for East Asian Studies, the Asian Language and Literatures department, and the East Asian Studies program
2015: The College of East Asian Studies receives two institutional grants: One from the Japan Foundation for a tenure-track line in traditional Japanese literature; and one from the Korea Foundation for a new tenure-track position in Korean political economy. Takeshi Watanabe and Joan Cho join the CEAS faculty in 2016.
2017: The University launched a Chinese blog and official Wechat channel with the primary goal of providing accurate and informative details about Wesleyan, as well as the US college admissions process, for prospective students and parents from mainland China.