The Board of Directors of the Association for Asian Studies is pleased to announce that it has appointed Dr. Hilary Vanessa Finchum-Sung as the association’s next Executive Director. Dr. Finchum-Sung will join the AAS on March 1, 2019 and will officially take office on April 1, 2019, following current Executive Director Michael Paschal’s retirement.
Hilary Finchum-Sung (Ph.D., Indiana University) is a specialist in Korean music theory and performance practice and has been a member of the AAS for almost twenty years. Her academic training is in both ethnomusicology and East Asian Studies. Finchum-Sung has spent the past decade in the Republic of Korea, where she made history as the first and (to date) only non-Korean to have served as a faculty member in a department of Korean Music. She has published in academic journals such as Ethnomusicology, the world of music (new series), Seoul Journal of Korean Studies, and Acta Koreana.
As Associate Professor of Korean Music Theory and Ethnomusicology at Seoul National University’s College of Music, she has taught classes on Korean music and culture as well as music of the world and ethnomusicology. In addition to teaching and student advising, Finchum-Sung has served on many university and government committees, such as the SNU Diversity Committee and the Arts Council Korea, and as a board member of the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs. At SNU, she has held many administrative posts, including as the Chair of the Interdisciplinary Graduate Major in Music Education and the Associate Dean of Students and International Affairs at the College of Music. Fluent in Korean, she has also made musical fluency a priority in her ethnomusicological practice as a performer on the two-string fiddle, haegeum.
While Finchum-Sung has devoted years to scholarly practice, she is no stranger to administrative work. As a younger academic, she managed the Group in Asian Studies at UC Berkeley and, during that time, formed a deep appreciation for the academic outreach and networking that both challenges academia and strengthens it.
“The opportunity to step into the role of Executive Director presents an exciting challenge for me,” Finchum-Sung says, “allowing me to draw on garnered academic experience while connecting to the world of Asian Studies on a much larger scale. Although sad to leave behind students, colleagues, family, and friends in Korea, I welcome this new transition in my career.”
As Executive Director, Finchum-Sung plans to build on the Association’s existing work in publications, networking, and outreach. She strongly believes that the AAS of the 21st century represents an international partnership with scholars of and educators about Asia around the world. Her aim is to support the Association’s ability to strengthen networks across regional and national borders, embracing the diverse talents and trajectories that both maintain their relevance and expand their contributions across time and space. An artist at heart, Finchum-Sung also envisions AAS’s scope broadening to incorporate more naturally and fully the fine and performing arts into the intellectual impact of Asian Studies.
“The officers and Board of the AAS are volunteers who come and go after serving for only a year or a few years,” points out current AAS President Anne Feldhaus. “Michael Paschal has guided the AAS with a steady hand for more than two decades, through the terms of many different presidents and Boards of Directors. We now look forward to a new and equally successful era under the leadership of Dr. Hilary Finchum-Sung.”