University News

A Message from WIU President Guiyou Huang: Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

May 1, 2023

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Dear University Community,

May is Asian and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month. Since 1990, the U.S. has used this month to recognize and celebrate Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States.

Like many commemorative months, Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month originated in Congress in 1977. After several failed resolutions, a week was proclaimed for the acknowledgement and celebration of Asian/Pacific American Heritage in 1979. Finally, in 1990, it was expanded to the entire month of May, with the theme this year being "Advancing Leaders Through Opportunity."

This theme supports WIU's mission, vision and core values, all of which are centered around creating and advancing leaders through educational opportunities, as well as creating opportunities for and encouraging personal growth and social responsibility.

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders represent us at different levels of government and leadership. Examples of contributions made by Asian American and Pacific Islanders in U.S. history include the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad in the 19th century, which employed thousands of Chinese workers, along with Irish and other ethnicities. In the mid-20th century, the formation of the 442nd Infantry Regiment, which became best known as the most decorated unit for its size in U.S. military history, was composed almost entirely of second-generation American soldiers of Japanese ancestry (Nisei) who fought in World War II, despite the incarceration of many of their families in internment camps on the west coast, while they fought abroad.

As we celebrate this month, I want to recognize and thank our Asian American and Pacific Islander students, faculty, and staff, as well as our international students from Asian and Pacific countries, for your contributions and achievements.

Guiyou Huang, Ph.D.

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