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Asian studies researcher establishes scholarship

By Kari VanDerVeen
November 10, 2009

On his way to Minneapolis last fall, Herb Hildebrandt stumbled upon an Asian studies conference St. Olaf College was hosting.

As a University of Michigan emeritus professor he has spent decades pursuing research in Asia, so he attended one of the sessions at the Midwest Conference on Asian Affairs and left with a deep appreciation for the quality of Asian studies at St. Olaf.

That appreciation for the strength of the college’s academic programs prompted Hildebrandt and his wife, Delores, to recently establish the Herbert W. and Delores D. Hildebrandt Asian Scholarship Fund. As a future endowed scholarship that will be legacy funded, it aims to increase support for Asian student scholarship at St. Olaf.

Hildebrandt, a lifelong Lutheran, earned his bachelor’s degree from Wartburg College in 1952. Subsequently he served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, earning several commendation medals. Upon returning to the United States he attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he earned his master’s and doctorate degrees.

Although he retired from the University of Michigan in 1998 after 40 years of teaching, research, and administrative service, Hildebrandt recently received two grants from the university to update a research project on China that he completed a decade ago. His current investigation seeks to compare Chinese business managers of today with those of the past.

Expressing gratitude
Establishing the scholarship at St. Olaf is a way for Hildebrandt, who held full professorships in both the Ross School of Business and the Communication Studies Department at the University of Michigan, to give something back to individuals and enterprises that have helped him over the years. He lived in Asia for several months each year for nearly three decades, lecturing, teaching, and performing research in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, China, Thailand, Indonesia, Korea, Taiwan, and India. During that time, he relied on the assistance of a wide range of people throughout Asia.

“It’s a way of saying ‘thank you,’” says Hildebrandt, a resident of Ann Arbor, Mich. “Too often we only take, without giving back. I’m comfortable, as part of my Christian heritage, to express gratitude via a distinguished Lutheran college to Asian students selected for this scholarship. St Olaf is strongly and deeply academically involved in Asia.” 

Contact Kari VanDerVeen at 507-786-3970 or