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Institute's Area and Language Centers, Partners Win Federal Awards for Programs of More Than $6 Million over 4 Years

Institute's Area and Language Centers, Partners Win Federal Awards for Programs of More Than $6 Million over 4 Years

Education Department budgets funds for five UCLA area studies 'centers of excellence,' two of them as part of cross-campus consortiums. It also establishes, under the UCLA Center for World Languages, a new center for the study of 'heritage languages,' including more than 100 spoken in Los Angeles communities. The money comes on top of $3.6 million awarded in May for graduate students' language learning.

The awards are official recognition that all of these units exercise national influence.

The U.S. Department of Education last week announced funding levels for recognized "centers of excellence" across the country and at the UCLA International Institute. Within the Institute, centers for European and Eurasian, Latin American, and Near Eastern Studies, dual-campus consortiums for the study of East Asia and Southeast Asia, and a new center for the study of so-called heritage languages won more than $6 million over four years for language courses, libraries, intellectual exchanges including public events, K–12 teacher training, curriculum development, and other programs and research.

Nationwide, a little more than half of the $28,620,000 proposed for national resource centers in area studies in 2006 supports work related to Eurasia, a land mass that the Education Department slices eight different ways for the purpose. The Middle East and Latin America attract the next-largest shares of the funds. Of the 124 national resource centers recognized by the department, the UCLA Latin American Center received the largest single allocation, at $268,382, for fiscal 2006.

This month's awards came in the second round of the Education Department's Title VI budgeting for fiscal 2006–10. In a first round of funding announced in May, the department parceled out fellowship support for graduate students who study foreign languages. The International Institute's area studies centers were awarded $3.6 million over the four-year span. All of the department's Title VI allocations are subject to annual congressional approval. In the second round, the department announced proposed funding for fiscal 2006 only; awards for the three succeeding years are subject to additional but typically minor adjustments.

Heritage Language Education

The newest recipient of Title VI funds within the Institute is the recently renamed and reorganized UCLA Center for World Languages (CWL), which submitted its proposal jointly with the UC Consortium for Language Learning & Teaching, based at UC–Davis. Already recognized for its symposiums, materials, and journal on heritage languages—or languages as spoken by foreign-born peoples and their descendants in the United States—the CWL will manage a language resource center (LRC) dedicated to the development of research and materials on the topic and to the training of heritage-language educators. More than 100 languages are spoken by sizeable groups around Los Angeles alone. With a proposed budget of $326,000 per year through 2010, the new LRC will be one of 15 in the nation, nearly half of which focus on languages within a geographical region. The 15 LRCs are in addition to the 124 national resource centers.

Post-9/11 Increases Erased

The five area studies programs to win national resource center funds for 2006-10 were the UCLA Center for European and Eurasian Studies, the Latin American Center, the Gustav E. von Grunebaum Center for Near Eastern Studies, a consortium of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies and its counterpart at UC–Berkeley, and an East Asian studies consortium involving UCLA and the University of Southern California. UCLA's centers for China, Korea, Japan, and Southeast Asia are members of the Asia Institute.

According to UCLA staff, federal budget cuts have affected all five of the UCLA centers and partnerships to receive continued Title VI funding—even before inflation and factors such as rising healthcare costs for supported faculty members are taken into account. In addition, sharp increases in funding for Near Eastern studies centers and a few other programs deemed "critical" during the previous cycle of 2003–06 evidently represented a post-9/11 spike, with the department reverting roughly to previous amounts for such programs in fiscal 2006.

The awards are official recognition that all of these units exercise national influence, judged by the size of their faculties, the scope of the courses offered both in modern languages and a broad range of academic disciplines, outstanding library collections, and active outreach programs for K–12 teachers and students in Southern California.

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