In the early 1990’s, the fight for Asian American resources (led by students) on this campus started. In the early 2000’s, there was increased administrative support for student-led initiatives for Asian American resources. Various administrators through the Dean of Students Office supported the movement for additional Asian American resources. There was a three-pronged approach: a Resource Center, Studies Program, and Director.

On November 17, 2003, a student-organized and led rally at Turlington Plaza for Asian American resources was held. Prior to an APIA graduate assistant, there was a MCDA graduate assistant Ebru Korbek who worked closely with the APIA community. Gradually throughout the years, a graduate student led the APIA office. These graduate assistants were Natalia Leal (2005), Yuko Fujino (2006-2007), and Taketo Nakao (2007-2011). In 2010, the Asian Pacific Islander American Resource Room was created (located on the fourth floor of Peabody Hall). In 2011, Leah Villanueva became the first APIA director. In the same year, the APIA Hall of Fame, End of Year Ceremony, APIA Leadership Development Institute, Lunch Series, and APIA Liaison Group were established. It was also the first year that the Association of Asian Alumni was formally recognized.

The office relocated to the Reitz Union along with the Multicultural and Diversity Affairs in 2016. During the 10th Anniversary Celebration in 2020, the office officially was renamed to the “Asian Pacific Islander Desi Affairs” and a new logo was introduced.