A playwright, performer and director, Francis Tanglao Aguas is a professor of theatre, founding director emeritus and professor of Asian & Pacific Islander American (APIA) studies, and director of global studies at William & Mary. Having been born and raised in the Philippines, educated in Nigeria, and graduated top of his class from the UCLA School of Theatre, Film and Television, Francis has experienced both the drama and the beauty in diversity.
Francis and Professor Deenesh Sohoni were appointed co-chairs of the William & Mary Asian Centennial, celebrating 100 years of Asian-American students at W&M. The commemoration began in fall 2021 and featured a year and a half packed with academic collaborations, research, performances, exhibits and other programs. It also brought to the W&M campus three Asian Centennial Arts Fellows, the inaugural William & Mary Asian Centennial Awards and launched the Asian Pacific Middle Eastern Research Project.
Looking ahead, Francis hopes to secure private funding to support a postdoctoral fellow who can continue to do research with students to help expand APIA course offerings. He is also working with partners at W&M’s School of Education and the Virginia Governor’s Office to develop K-12 programs on Asian American history. Why? As Francis puts it, it is all a part of an effort to transform W&M into “the leader in expanding academic programs and research that promote inclusion of Asian American, Pacific Islander and Southwest Asian students and communities.”