East-West Center Oral History Project: Betty Buck

Betty Buck

In the early 1970s, Betty Buck began her association with EWC in the Communication Institute, working with David Radel and Bob Worrall on USAID-funded family planning communications projects. In the 1980s, with the Institute of Culture and Communication, she ran Asian film tours to the mainland for the Hawaii International Film Festival and obtained her PhD in Political Science from UH. In 1990-91, as Special Assistant to President Victor Li, she worked with Li to begin the highly successful Asian Studies Development Program (ASDP), “infusing Asian studies into the undergraduate curriculum” in U.S. community and small four-year colleges. Buck went on to serve as Director of Education under Charles Morrison in 1999-2003 and is now  working part-time, mainly on ASDP’s summer programs. Buck also talks about other Education Program initiatives: the Asia Pacific Leadership Program, Ford Foundation International Fellowships, Education 2020, and CTAPS/AsiaPacificEd in the Schools. Buck's work and that of the Center's Education Program are detailed in "Educating the Educators" in The East-West Center Legacy .

Read Buck's interview narrative (pdf)


  • Personal Background - Coming to Hawai'i - Returning to Hawai'i
  • Life at EWC - Communication Institute, 1970s - TV and Sex Roles Project
  • Institutional Transitions - Institute of Culture and Communication - Institute Staff Changes - Tu Weiming - Director of Education
  • Intellectual Innovations - Study of Hawaiian Music Industry - Hawai'i International Film Festival - Hawai'i Film Festival/Mainland Tour - Asian Studies Development Program (ASDP) - ASDP Field Study - ASDP/After RIF -  Asia Pacific Leadership Program (APLP) - Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program - Education 2020 - ASDP/China-U.S. Program - CTAPS/AsiaPacificEd in the Schools
  • EWC’s Impact - On Career, Perspectives - Best Memories


Interview Quotes

" Victor [Li] decided that Americans weren’t learning about Asia, particularly at the undergraduate level.  You had your centers of Asian Studies at Harvard and Michigan and Berkeley and UH.  You know, where you had really big programs, but the vast majority of Americans, at the undergraduate level, were not getting anything about Asia. I remember if I had anything at all at Duke, it was probably a comparative religion course, where you'd hear a little bit about Shinto and Buddhism and Hinduism.  And so we started ASDP [Asian Studies Development Program]."

"Our first institute was in 1991. Our first ‘Infusing Asian Studies into the Undergraduate Curriculum Institute.’ It became our term. We had had a meeting in 1990 -- Victor was still there -- and we invited several people: We invited a few people from community colleges and AASCU schools, some Asian specialists who taught about Asia. Maybe we had around 18 to 20 people, and said, ‘What would you want to see the Center do?’ And they said, ‘Well, several things.  We would like it to include four-year universities and community colleges....We'd like it to be both faculty and academic administrators, and we would like you to present content programs for the faculty.’  But they weren't interested in our writing curriculum, which we think is just the best advice we ever got.”


These narratives, which reflect interviewees’ personal perceptions, opinions and memories, may contain errors of fact. They do not reflect positions or versions of history officially approved by the East-West Center.