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Although the University's East Asia Program will not receive funding for graduate fellowships from the U.S. Department of Education for the next three years, administrators and involved faculty members said last night they are optimistic about the program's future. The Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies was denied Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) grants, which are used to fund graduate studies fellowships, and will not be able to reapply for another three years. "It is very disappointing because East Asia studies are something we are committed to and find very important at Penn," School of Arts and Sciences Dean Rosemary Stevens said last night. "The quality of the [East Asia] program will remain." Stevens said the University winning and losing grants all the time is commonplace. Many reasons, ranging from a lack of faculty members who specialize in the subject to the lack of an East Asian Center, were offered last week by faculty trying to explain why the funds were denied. But faculty members and the administration are trying to look ahead. "I genuinely believe that we are on the right track of building the East Asia program," SAS Associate Dean Rick Beeman said last night. "We probably won't be able to admit as many graduate students this year, but we'll try to find some fellowship money for entering graduate students." The need to compensate for the funding loss is currently under discussion between the program and the administration, and more talk between the two is still to come, Stevens said. "The faculty will be meeting with Associate Dean of Graduate Studies Donald Fitts on whether part of the funding for graduate students can be provided through Arts and Sciences' own resources," Stevens said. In fact, Beeman is scheduled to meet early this week with Fitts and East Asia Program acting Director William LeFleur. Speaking about previous meetings, LeFleur said the administration has been very "understanding." "We don't know yet what available funds will be available for the coming year," Lefleur said. "We are not talking about a tremendous amount of money, four or five scholarships." Beeman said the program's attractiveness is "very dependent" on the University's ability to give fellowships. Beeman added that the program will not be able to admit as many graduate students as before, but said the future success of the program lies in the faculty, not the students. Defending the idea that the administration is not currently doing enough to promote the East Asia program, Beeman said three new appointments have been made this year. "We have been aggressively hiring faculty in this area," Beeman said. "We are also coming close to hiring a director for the East Asia Program." Beeman admitted, though, that the need to hire these faculty members stemmed from weaknesses within the program. "It was that weakness that caused the Department of Education not to grant funding for graduate fellowships this year," he said.

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