Mission and History


The Chao Center for Asian Studies is the premier research hub for faculty, students and postdoctoral scholars working in Asian studies at Rice. Our focus is on transnational, trans-historic, diasporic, and global movements of peoples and cultures of greater Asia. The mission of the Chao Center includes outreach to Asian and Asian American populations in Houston and beyond, promoting scholarly community building and broader understanding. The Center is the home of the Transnational Asia Research Initiative, supporting the work of a team of postdoctoral scholars, and publishes an online journal, Transnational Asia. The Chao Center also supports programs such as the Houston Asian American Archive and hosts the Frank Liu Distinguished Visitor Series. The Center works very closely with the Department of Transnational Asian Studies in the School of Humanities.

The Chao Center was founded with a generous gift from the T. T. and W. F. Chao Family Foundation in 2008 and has been awarded grants from the Henry Luce Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Academy of Korean Studies.


To support the Center, please contact Emily Stein, Senior Director of Development, at ems12@rice.edu or 713-348-3424.


In 1988, Richard Smith, now George and Nancy Rupp Professor Emeritus of Humanities, established Rice University's Asian Studies program and Asian Studies major. During its thirty-year history as an undergraduate major, the Asian Studies program was supported by the enthusiastic participation of Rice faculty and also by grants from various foundations such as the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation. In the mid-2000s working closely with Steven Lewis, C.V. Starr Transnational China Fellow and Professor in the Practice in Asian Studies, Smith proposed the establishment of a transnationally oriented Center for Asian Studies. The Ting Tsung and Wei Fong Chao Foundation generously endowed the Center in 2008, enabling the establishment of the Chao Center for Asian Studies at Rice University.