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New prof hired to organize effort With the hiring of Grace Kao as an assistant professor of Sociology, the University's Asian American Studies program is finally set to begin. Over the past few years, the Asian Pacific Student Coalition has joined forces with faculty committees in an attempt to find professors willing to run an interdisciplinary Asian American Studies program. For Rosane Rocher, who is chairing the search and steering committees for the proposed program, this step represents an important beginning. "With close to 20 percent of the student body made up of Asians, we feel strongly that an Asian American Studies program is a necessary part of any Penn student's education," she said. Rocher said the involvement of the APSC was a definite catalyst in the hiring process. And Sonny Ago, APSC advisor and graduate program coordinator for Asian American students, said the APSC has done "an exceptional job" communicating with the steering and search committees. Ago explained that the APSC had an intense desire to see Asian American Studies become a reality, adding that the group appreciated the need for a starting point before an entire program could be developed. "We would all like to see a major develop from this initial step," he said. "However, the students understand that hiring Grace Kao is the best position to be in right now." He added that events such as the fifth annual East California Asian American Studies Conference, which took place in late October, were strongly supported by the APSC and helped to further the development of an Asian American Studies program at Penn. APSC President Gloria Lee, a Wharton junior, also expressed her excitement about Kao's hiring. "It's great to see a project that has occupied so much time and effort finally beginning to take shape," Lee said. She also attributed Kao's successful hiring to the great communication between the APSC and the faculty committees. College senior Mika Rao, undergraduate representative to the search committee and former APSC president, said Kao's hiring was a personal triumph. "This issue is near to my heart," she said. "Asian Americans have a much longer history in America than most people realize. It's important that we have opportunities to learn about it." Rao also said the search committee hopes to potentially hire additional professors. "We just have to keep thinking that we've come this far because we didn't let our hopes die," she said. "And we're not about to."

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