Area Studies programs are facing drastic cuts!

The following is a letter sent out by Gail Hershatter, President of the Association for Asian Studies.  I’m reposting it here because so many people have asked me about what is happening with respect to the Area Studies programs around the country.  Already hit by state budget cuts, area studies programs are not being hit with drastic federal cuts which will cripple if not entirely destroy area studies programs in certain cases.  I don’t agree with the lobbying strategy that is outlined below (largely because I don’t think that Democrats or Republicans are particularly interested in restoring funding to education in any substantial way) but there are excellent resources in the letter that I wanted to pass along.

Threats to Title VI Programs
Information and How You Can Help

Dear AAS Members,

As scholars whose work centers on Asia, many of us have watched with dismay this spring as government support for Title VI programs was cut and the Fulbright-Hays grants for 2011-12 were eliminated altogether (see our news item from April, 2011). This is an issue that we will continue to track closely, speaking out on behalf of Asian Studies scholars about the importance of restoring this funding.

Miriam Kazanjian of the Coalition for International Education, who represents the AAS and similar scholarly organizations in Washington, has provided a list of articles, blogs and Facebook pages on the Title VI/Fulbright funding cuts. The most recent articles appear on the TIME Magazine and Council on Foreign Relations websites. The list is included at the end of this message. We will continue to update this list and to alert our membership at moments where our individual and collective voices should be heard.

Here are some points to keep in mind with respect to NEXT year’s budget process, with suggestions for action drawn from Miriam Kazanjian’s Coalition for International Education materials:

The Congressional FY 2012 budget process will be as difficult, if not more so, than the FY 2011 appropriations process. We are doing our best to encourage Congress to restore funding for Title VI/Fulbright to their FY 2010 levels, which in this political climate will be a steep challenge.

1) MEETINGS WITH CONGRESSIONAL OFFICES AND LETTERS OF SUPPORT. If you are a current or past Title VI/Fulbright grantee, the Coalition is encouraging targeted meetings with your Congressional delegation, in consultation with your campus federal relations officer (see more below about the key Congressional committees). If your campus has multiple Title VI centers/programs, it would be a good idea to team up with the others on your visits. Many Congressional Members are new and need to be briefed by grantees on what the programs do, how they serve the national interest, what will be lost with the FY11 cuts, and what will be lost if the programs are ZEROED in the FY 2012 budget. If you are not a current grantee, letters of support nonetheless are needed.

Letters and meetings are timely now. The House Subcommittee on Labor/HHS/ED Appropriations is scheduled to mark up its FY 2012 bill on July 26, with full committee markup in early August. They have been setting priorities. The comparable Senate subcommittee will continue to hold hearings in the next couple of weeks, but are beginning to set priorities as well.

2) ADVOCACY MATERIALS. Listed below are three additional documents posted on the AAS website.

a) Committee Lists (Excel file). The first document contains spreadsheets of House and Senate Subcommittees on Labor/HHS/ED Appropriations as well as the full Appropriations Committees. Check to see if your state has a Member(s) on these committees, and either write a letter of support, or ask for a meeting, especially if you are a grantee.

If you have no Members on the Appropriations Committees, letters to your Representative and two Senators are important. You may urge that they contact the Labor/HHS/ED subcommittee chairmen in the respective chambers requesting that Title VI/Fulbright funding be restored to FY 2010 levels.

b) Results for Title VI-Part A, International Education and Foreign Language Studies: This document provides examples of specific outcome indicators for Part A programs, particularly what the grantees have achieved with the enhancements provided by Congress since 9/11. In particular, please see a new table of NRC sample language course and enrollment increases since FY 2000, which are significant. Feel free to emphasize in your letters and meetings data outlined in the document, especially how Title VI centers have responded to Congressional directives since the post-9/11 enhancements.

c) Title VI/Fulbright-Hays Talking Points: This document provides generic talking points that you may wish to use in letters. Please note that the following language is what the Coalition is requesting the Congress to do:

“We understand the tremendous pressures on the federal budget and the difficult decisions Congress faces on spending. However, we are deeply concerned over the severe and disproportionate $50 million or 40% cut under the FY 2011 Continuing Resolution to HEA-Title VI/Fulbright-Hays programs, the U.S. Department of Education’s premier international education programs.

“We strongly urge that Congress safeguard these programs by restoring funding in the FY 2012 appropriations to the FY 2010 level of $125.881 million, which includes $108.4 million for Title VI-A&B; $15.6 million for Fulbright-Hays 102(b)(6); and $1.9 million for the Title VI-C, Institute for International Public Policy.”

In your letters, feel free to use this lead in, followed by information about the impact of your current Title VI/Fulbright grant, or one that you might have had in the past, or other ways you have benefited from these programs. Anecdotal stories demonstrating impact are effective, as well as what will be lost if these cuts continue into FY 2012. Remember that personal letters are more effective than form letters.

Also note that some in Congress and the Administration think other federal agencies or the universities themselves should sustain Title VI programs. Include in your letters what will be lost without Title VI funds. For example, state governments and foundations will not fund these activities on the steady basis required to meet ongoing national capacity needs, which is a federal role, and in this case a Department of Education role.

3) THIRD PARTY VALIDATORS. Seek third parties who have benefited from Title VI/Fulbright programs and are willing to write to your Congressional delegation urging restoration of funding, such as former students and outreach recipients. Letters should be 1-2 pages, flagging the program, expressing concern over the disproportionate cuts, stating the dollar restoration paragraph noted above, and providing one or two examples of how they have benefited from the programs.

The National Humanities Alliance has kindly posted on its website Title VI issue and action pages, including a form letter with optional add-in information, which anybody can use to send a letter to your Representative and two Senators:

4) PRESS ARTICLES AND OP-EDs. Seek press articles about the cuts and their impact. Below is a list of articles, blogs and Facebook pages that have emerged thus far and that I am aware of. Also, look for prominent Title VI beneficiaries willing and in a position to write an op-ed article in your local newspaper or in a high recognition newspaper like the Washington Post, NYTimes, LATimes, etc.

5) FEEDBACK. Finally, provide feedback directly to Miriam A. Kazanjian of CIE on the following: (a) What contacts are made with Congressional offices and outcomes; and (b) the impact of the FY11 cuts on your campus. Contact Miriam Kazanjian at or (301) 230-9214.

With best wishes for a restful and productive summer,
Gail Hershatter
President, AAS


Title VI/FH Articles and Blogs as of June 20, 2011



Title VI/FH Blogs