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U Partners with BYU to Win Prestigious U.S. Department of Education Grants

The U’s Asia Center and Center for Latin American Studies were recently designated at Title VI National Resource Centers, the most highly competitive and coveted recognition of area studies programs nationwide.

Nov. 3, 2014 – The University of Utah, in partnership with Brigham Young University, has been awarded prestigious four-year grants from the U.S. Department of Education to support international education and language study in Utah. Grant funding totals $6.6 million, $4.6 million of which is earmarked for student scholarships.

The U Asia Center, together with the BYU Asian Studies Program, and the U Center for Latin American Studies, together with the BYU Latin American Studies Program, have been designated as Title VI National Resource Centers, or NRCs, the most highly competitive and coveted recognition of area studies programs nationwide.

“In addition to the funding that will support numerous training programs, outreach activities and workshops, faculty research and approximately 80 student scholarships per year, the designation as a Title VI National Resource Center speaks volumes about the quality of our centers,” said Ruth Watkins, senior vice president of Academic Affairs. “It represents national recognition of our Asian Studies and Latin American Studies programs, enhancing our ability to attract top-notch students and prepare students for careers in an increasingly global world.”

The student scholarships, known as Foreign Language and Area Studies fellowships, will provide more than $1 million each year for the next four years in scholarships for U and BYU undergraduate and graduate students from all disciplines and professional programs to study either Latin America or Asia and the languages spoken in those regions.

“The Foreign Language and Area Studies program supports universities to produce more graduates who are proficient in a foreign language and knowledgeable about foreign cultures,” said Rebecca Horn, director of the Center for Latin American Studies. “Students with these skills are better prepared and more competitive for a range of professional careers, including the foreign service, international business or law, global health, non-governmental organizations and engineering.”

With more than 25,000 elementary school students currently enrolled in dual language immersion programs and more than 50,000 K-12 students who speak a language other than English, Utah has become a national model for how to build a statewide K-16 pipeline for language and area studies education.

“Utah’s NRCs are at the forefront of these efforts to produce college graduates prepared to use their language skills and cultural knowledge in a professional world,” said Janet Theiss, director of the Asia Center. “With nearly 400 faculty affiliates, the NRCs serve as hubs for developing Asian and Latin American Studies curriculum at all educational levels, fostering excellence in research and building partnerships between Utah’s institutions of higher education, community colleges and K-12.”