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SWCAS: Early History

The initiative for the Southwest Conference came as the result of an informal meeting of seven scholars held during the March 1971 annual meeting of the Southwestern Social Science Conference in Dallas. The seven agreed to communicate their intent to the Secretariat of the AAS and to begin polling their colleagues regarding the need for a regional conference. Dr. Wonmo Dong of Southern Methodist University was charged by the group with these tasks.

In early August of that same year a survey was sent to just under a hundred colleagues in the region to assess support for the formation of a regional conference of the AAS. About two-thirds of those polled responded. The highly favorable nature of the responses resulted in a decision to call an organizational meeting in January 1972 at SMU. An ad hoc committee of SMU faculty, including Provost Neil McFarland, then set about preparing for the meeting.

The organizational meeting took place in Dallas on January 28-29, 1972. The keynote speakers were Dr. McFarland representing SMU and Dr. Robert Crane representing the AAS. The agenda for the meeting included a panel on the state of Asian studies in the region, review of the organization's bylaws drafted by Mr. Arthur Stone of the University of Dallas, selection of officers, and initial planning for the first annual conference. Selected as the founding officers of the Southwest Conference on Asian Studies were:

President: Neil McFarland

Vice-President: Edgar C. Polome

Secretary-Treasurer: Wonmo Dong

The Board of Directors included Robert Detrick, Pauline Kolenda, Virgil Medlin, Robert Robins, Suk-Soon Suh, and James Ware. Responsibility for organizing the program for the first annual conference scheduled for fall 1972 was assigned to Dr. Roy E. Teele of the University of Texas at Austin.

The first Newsletter of the Southwest Conference on Asian Studies appeared in early October 1972. The Newsletter contained the program for the upcoming first annual conference of the SWCAS, a listing of its officers, and a list of recent publications by members of the SWCAS. The first annual conference of the SWCAS was held on October 27-28, 1972, in Austin, Texas. The Friday afternoon and Saturday morning sessions consisted of six panels.