Cornell Founded in 1865

1868 On October 7, Cornell University officially opens for instruction. The first class welcomes 26 professors and 412 students.
1866 Andrew Dickson White becomes the first President of Cornell.

1868-71 Japan’s feudal system officially ends due to the Meiji Restoration.

1876 The Northern Chinese Famine begins. 


1871 Frederick L.O. Roehrig is appointed professor of Sanskrit and Living Asiatic Languages. 
1870 Nagasawa Kanaye becomes the first Japanese student to attend Cornell.


1884-5 The Sino-French War/Tonkin War leads to the formation of French Indochina.

1893 Japan adopts the Gregorian calendar.

1894-5 The First Sino-Japanese War exposes the weakness of the China’s ruling Qing dynasty. Korea and Taiwan are given to Japan under the Treaty of Shimonoseki.

1898 The Philippine Revolution ends, leading to the establishment of the First Philippine Republic and the eventual outbreak of the Philippine–American War.

1899 The Boxer Rebellion begins in China.

1885 Charles Kendall Adams becomes the second president of Cornell.


1892 Jacob Gould Schurman becomes the third president of Cornell.
1901 Sao-Ke Alfred Sze becomes the first Chinese student to graduate from Cornell.


1902 The Cornell University Library officially begins collecting books on East Asia.

1904 The Russo-Japanese War begins.

1904 Founding of the Chinese Students Association.
1904 Modesto Quiroga founds the Cornell Cosmopolitan Club. 
1904 Jose Reyes becomes the first Filipino student to graduate from Cornell.
1906 Cornell Trustees authorizes six scholarships a year for Chinese students.
1908 The Cornell Alumni Directory lists 53 Japanese alumni, 37 Chinese alumni, 26 Filipino alumni, 16 Indian alumni, and 1 Korean alumnus.
1911 Yoshi Shoda becomes the first female Asian student to attend Cornell.


1911 The University of the Philippines College of Law is formally established; three future Philippine presidents are among the first enrollees.

1912 The Republic of China established.

1914 Beginning of World War I.

1914 Sakurajima Volcano in Japan erupts.

1912 Nai Tee becomes the first Thai student to attend Cornell.
1916 Helen Huie Kwei becomes the first female Asian American student to attend Cornell.
1914 Su Chen Wang becomes the first female Chinese student to attend Cornell.
1916 Rho Psi Society is founded (the first club for Asian and Asian American students in the Ivy League).
1918 Charles W. Wason gives his collection of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean literature to the Kroch Library, establishing the Wason Collection. 
 1921 Livingston Farrand becomes the fourth president of Cornell.
1924 Founding of the "Filipino Cornellians” club.


1921 The Communist Party is established in China.

1926 Hirohito becomes the Emperor of Japan.

1924 Zung Nyi Loh becomes the first female Asian graduate student. She received an A.M. in Physics. Thesis: The effect of temperature on the absorption of fluorescein.
1926 Pearl S. Buck studies rural sociology under Cornell’s Agricultural College and University of Nanjing agricultural exchange program.

1930 Ghandi begins his Salt March.

1930 A Civil War in China between Nationalists and Communists breaks out.

1931 Japan invades Manchuria.

1937 Japan advances into Northern China and Mongolia.

1939 WWII Begins.


1938 Knight Biggerstaff becomes the first full-time professor of Chinese History.
1932 Pearl S. Buck is awarded the Pulitzer Prize for her novel, The Good Earth, which explores life in a Chinese village.
1937 Edmund Ezra Day becomes the fifth president of Cornell.

1941 Ho Chi Minh founds the Communist Viet Minh in Vietnam.

1942 Bataan Death March.

1945 U.S. drops atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

1946 Philippines become independent.

1946 First Indochina War begins.

1947 India and Pakistan become independent.

1948 Korea divides into North and South.

1949 People's Republic of China proclaimed by Mao Tse-Tung.

1949 Indonesia under Sukarno gains independence from Netherlands.


1944 The Department of Chinese Studies is created. 
1945 By the end of WWII in 1945, more than 480 Cornell alumni gave their lives while serving in the U.S. armed forces.
1949 Cornell University receives the Ghandi Memorial Library. 


1950 Beginning of Korean War.

1952 India holds its first general election.

1953 The first Asian Socialist Conference opens in Burma.

1954 Armistice for Indo-China signed, Vietnam separates into North & South.

1958 Mao Zedong starts "Great leap forward" movement in China.


1959 Dalai Lama flees China and is granted political asylum in India.

1953 Cornell begins to offer Hindi
language instruction.
1951 Cornell establishes a Southeast Asia Program.
1951 Deane Waldo Malott becomes the sixth president of Cornell.
1955 Hau Wong Ho attends Cornell University, starting the Ho Family legacy. To date, four members of the Ho family have received an education form Cornell. 

1961 Beginning of Vietnam War.

1963 Sarawak achieves independence from British colonial rule.

1965 Singapore separates from the Federation of Malaysia and gains its independence.


1960 The U.S. Office of Education designates Cornell University to be a national center for East Asian studies.
1962 The Department of Asian Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences begins coordinating all teaching and research in East Asia, Southeast Asia, and South Asia.
1969 The Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art debuts an exhibit dedicated to Japanese artist Masuo Ikeda.
1963 James A. Perkins becomes the seventh president of Cornell.