From the Immediate Past President

December 2002

Source: CLTA Newsletter 26.3. December 2002, p. 3.

I write this at the conclusion of the CLTA annual meeting and at the completion of my term as President. It has been a busy and rewarding year, and I thank the Board of Directors, and the CLTA officers, especially Dr. Cynthia Ning, our Executive Director, for their hard work on behalf of our organization. The year also marked a transition in the CLTA journal. After eight years of dedicated and professional service as Editor, Dr. Shouhsin Teng is stepping down and I am happy to announce that he will be succeeded by Dr. Vivian Ling, who brings with her extensive expertise in Chinese literature, pedagogy, and program management. Our Newsletter Editor, Ted Yao, will also be stepping down after eight years of service, and we are undergoing a search for his replacement. On behalf of our Board of Directors and our membership, I thank Dr. Teng and Dr.Yao for their service and contributions to our Association.

For me, the highlight of the Annual meeting was the CLTA banquet and special 40 th anniversary roundtable. Our special guests, George Chao [University of Chicago], Chauncey Chu [University of Florida], and C.P. Sobleman [Columbia University], recalled for us the history of CLTA and shared their advice as we move forward. We learned, for example, that the organization is actually 42 years old, that the first newsletter appeared in 1965, edited by C.P. Sobelman and a graduate student with the help of an IBM selectric typewriter, a razor, and glue. We learned that in those days, some students were more conversant in literary Chinese than in spoken Mandarin. How far we have come! Finally, we were advised to continue to insist that we be treated as professionals on par with faculty in other disciplines in the academic community.

The last official survey of our profession was completed by the Modern Languages Association in 1998. At that time, almost 23,000 students were enrolled in Chinese classes at the college and university level. The National Foreign Language Center reports that over 75% of overall Chinese language enrollment is at the high school and heritage school level. The MLA is currently compiling up-to-date enrollment figures which will be released next year. The National Foreign Language Center is about to begin a comprehensive survey of the field as part of a Chinese Language Field Initiative. The figures they compile will be provided by us, the teachers and administrators in this field. We know our field is growing, and it is important that those outside of the field receive an accurate picture. Please respond promptly to the NFLC request for information, so that our strength is as clear to those on the outside as it is to us on the inside.

Claudia Ross]