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Vietnamese American Alumni Group Kicks-Off Fundraising Initiative to Support UCI Libraries' Southeast Asian Archive

Michael Drake, Daniel Do-Khanh, and Rob Myers
(left to right) Chancellor Michael Drake,
VACA Chair Daniel Do-Khanh, and Wells
Fargo Regional President Rob Myers.
Photo Credit: Allan Helmick

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Sheree Baugh
Library Development Office
949-824-4651
sbaugh@uci.edu

The Vietnamese American Community Ambassadors (VACA), a chapter of the UCI Alumni Association, launched a fundraising effort for the UCI Libraries' Southeast Asian Archive at a media event at the Institute for Vietnamese Studies in Little Saigon on December 7.

At the event, UCI Chancellor Michael Drake and VACA announced a joint commitment to raise funds to hire an archivist for the UCI Libraries' nationally recognized Southeast Asian Archive, and made it official by signing a memo of understanding stating their goal to raise $50,000 to do so. UCI will match up to $25,000 raised by VACA.

The nationally recognized Archive was established in 1987 due to the inspiration and assistance of the local Vietnamese American community and UCI Librarian Anne Frank (now retired), who began collecting resettlement materials and even paintings from people detained in refugee camps as they fled their home countries of Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam after the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. Today, the Archive includes thousands of books, journals and ephemera, but there is a need to hire a professional archivist to process new donations of materials so they are available for researchers and the public.

Wells Fargo Bank was one of the first donors to step up and support VACA's fundraising effort by announcing a gift of $10,000. Wells Fargo Regional President Rob Myers presented the check to VACA Chair Daniel Do-Khanh and Chancellor Drake. Do-Khanh also announced a gift of $1,000 from Southern California Edison, plus others totaling $14,000 raised so far.

"The Southeast Asian Archives really is a gem that we have. It's unique. There's no other university or library that has a collection that we have," said Do-Khanh. "And I think that over the years, the collection has grown and it's strong, but there are realities, which is the budget, staffing. How do we grow this collection? How do we maintain it first and how do we grow it? And so this is a very important juncture for us."

Interim University Librarian Gerald Lowell conveyed his sincere appreciation and support of VACA's efforts. "We are truly impressed with VACA's commitment to help us raise the stature of this important Archive for the community and for scholarly research. One of our highest priorities is to build premier special collections that represent the unique geographical setting that we are in. It is very admirable that VACA understands the importance of preserving Vietnamese American history and heritage through the Archive."

Do-Khanh calls hiring an archivist for the collection a "first step."