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University College announces Chair in Chinese Canadian Studies

The Honourable Vivienne Poy, Chancellor Emerita of the University of Toronto (photo by Christopher Dew)

Members of Toronto’s Asian Canadian community gathered at University College on Nov. 28, 2012 for the announcement of a new, endowed Chair in Chinese Canadian Studies.

Established with a $4 million anonymous donation and housed within the renowned Canadian Studies program at University College, the Richard Charles Lee Chair in Chinese Canadian Studies will be held by a rising star who will define the growing and dynamic field, said UC Principal Donald Ainslie. He added the Chair will enhance understanding of issues facing Chinese Canadians, as well as patterns of Canadian immigration, integration, multiculturalism, and belonging.

The announcement of the Chair follows the establishment of the Asian Canadian Studies undergraduate minor program at UC earlier this fall. The first of its kind in Canada, the program is breaking new ground in the multidisciplinary study of the historical, socio-cultural, economic, and political forces shaping our knowledge about people of Asian heritage in Canada, said Professor Ainslie.

“Not only are we advancing scholarship of Asian Canadian issues through teaching, we are now poised to be research leaders in this increasingly important area of inquiry,” Ainslie said.

In celebration of the launch of the Chair and minor program, University College hosted a lecture by the Honourable Vivienne Poy entitled Are We Too Asian?

Poy—whose father, Richard Charles Lee, is the Chair’s namesake—is the first person of Asian descent to have been appointed to the Senate of Canada, where she served from 1998 to September 2012. She is also Chancellor Emerita of the University of Toronto.

An entrepreneur, fashion designer, author, and historian, Poy is currently the chair of Lee Tak Wai Holdings Limited.

“I would like to congratulate University College for their vision,” Poy declared, praising the curricular and research developments for “not only imparting knowledge but building the people-to-people linkages that Canada desperately needs.”

“If China continues to rise, we must rise with it, or stagnate on the sidelines,” she said.

At the post-lecture reception, University of Toronto President David Naylor thanked the donor, remarking that UC is the ideal home for the Chair and program, citing the College’s founding values of openness and diversity. Also in attendance was The Honourable Michael Chan, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport Ontario, and MPP for Markham-Unionville.