Masaharu Yoshida, Japan’s consulate general in Chicago, presents UMSL Provost Glen Cope (left) an award certificate and a check from the Japan Foundation. (Photo by Ryan Krull)

The beginning of this semester brought with it something special for the Japanese Studies program at the University of Missouri–St. Louis.

The program received a Salary Assistance Grant from the Japan Foundation, a prize that includes enough money to support a new Japanese Studies faculty position. UMSL used the funds to hire Keiko Ueda as an assistant teaching professor. She’ll teach upper–level Japanese language courses and team-teach the introductory level courses.

The official award ceremony was held Aug. 29 in the Social Sciences and Business Building. Representatives from the Japanese Consulate in Chicago were on hand to present UMSL Provost Glen Cope and representatives from the language programs at UMSL with an award certificate and a check.

Laura Miller, the Eiichi Shibusawa-Seigo Arai Professor of Japanese Studies and professor of anthropology, called the award a “highlight of the year.” She went on to call special attention to Amy Michael, lecturer in Japanese, and Beth Eckelkamp, associate teaching professor in Japanese and associate dean of students in the College of Arts and Sciences, both of whom were instrumental in completing the lengthy application process for the award.

Miller then introduced Masaharu Yoshida, the Consul General of Japan in Chicago, who shared his thoughts on the occasion with the gathered crowd. He praised UMSL for being the only state university in Missouri to offer its students a Japanese major. Yoshida lauded UMSL’s program for exposing students to a variety of aspects of Japan, from language to culture to business. He stated that such programs are important because for many students signing up for a Japanese language class proves to be the first step to a rich, lifelong relationship to Japan.

After his brief remarks, Yoshida officially presented the Japan Foundation Award to Cope who accepted on behalf of the university. Koji Kaneko, also of the office of the consul general later presented Birgit Noll, director of language programs, with a check for the Salary Assistance Grant.

This year, 23 universities received Japan Foundation Awards. UMSL was one of only five Midwestern institutions to receive the honor.

This story was written by alumnus Ryan Krull, MFA 2014, a student support specialist who also teaches writing courses at UMSL.

Ryan Krull

Ryan Krull

Ryan Krull is a second year student in the MFA program at UMSL. His fiction and journalism has appeared online and in print.