Search SBL

SBL Forum Archive
<< Return to SBL Forum Archive Pauline R. Yu Named as Next President of The American Council of Learned Societies

PRESS RELEASE, New York, NY, January 31, 2003

Dean Pauline R. Yu of the University of California, Los Angeles, will become the sixth president of the American Council of Learned Societies in the summer of 2003, it was announced today. Patricia Meyer Spacks, Chair of the ACLS Board and Edgar F. Shannon Professor of English at the University of Virginia stated that the ACLS Board of Directors had unanimously approved appointing Professor Yu to the post.

Pauline Yu has been a member of the ACLS Board of Directors since 1998 and is currently Dean of Humanities in the College of Letters and Science and Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures at UCLA. Before becoming Dean at UCLA in 1994, Professor Yu taught at the University of California, Irvine, where she was Professor and Founding Chair of the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures. Between 1986 and 1989, she was Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures at Columbia University, having joined that faculty as an Associate Professor in 1985. She earlier held appointments as an Assistant Professor (1976-1980) and Associate Professor (1980-1985) in Humanities and East Asian Studies at the University of Minnesota. She was a Visiting Assistant Professor at Stanford University in 1978.

Professor Yu completed her undergraduate study in Modern European History and Literature at Harvard University, receiving a B.A. magna cum laude in 1971. While an undergraduate, she spent one year at the Freie Universitaet in (West) Berlin. She did graduate work at Stanford University, where she earned an M.A. in 1973, and a Ph.D. in 1976, both in Comparative Literature.

Professor Yu's scholarly specialization is the study of classical Chinese poetry, especially that of the High Tang in the eighth century, C.E. She is particularly well known for her books The Poetry of Wang Wei: New Translations and Commentary (Indiana University Press, 1980) and The Reading of Imagery in the Chinese Poetic Tradition (Princeton University Press, 1987). She has edited and contributed to three volumes of essays: Ways with Words: Writing about Reading Texts from Early China (University of California Press, 2000), Culture and State in Chinese History: Conventions, Accommodations, and Critiques (Stanford University Press, 1997), and Voices of the Song Lyric in China (University of California Press, 1994). In addition, she has published many articles and translations. She is an elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Senator of Phi Beta Kappa. Professor Yu has received fellowship awards from the American Council of Learned Societies, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

She is a member of five of the constituent societies of ACLS - the Modern Language Association, the Association for Asian Studies, the American Comparative Literature Association, the American Oriental Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences - and has served on the councils or national committees of each.

In addition to serving on the ACLS Board of Directors, Professor Yu is a Trustee of the National Humanities Center, a member of the Advisory Board of the Council for International Exchange of Scholars, and a member of the Task Force on the Humanities of the Association of American Universities. Professor Yu has three children: Emily, Matthew, and Alexander Huters.

Professor Spacks gave the following statement regarding Professor Yu's appointment as the next ACLS President: "Pauline Yu's already considerable achievements as a scholar and an academic leader fit her perfectly for the presidency of ACLS. Her colleagues at UCLA, in learned societies, on the ACLS Board, and across the humanities community know they can rely on her discerning judgment and high-minded dedication. I am confident that as president, she will provide the vigorous leadership and distinctive vision we seek."

"This is a splendid appointment," said W. Robert Connor, President and Director Emeritus of the National Humanities Center. "Pauline Yu has brought to our deliberations at the National Humanities Center a deep knowledge of humanities scholarship and a keen appreciation of the difficult craft of institutional leadership. I am delighted that the ACLS, an institution so important to the future of the humanities, will have her at its helm."

Brian P. Copenhaver, UCLA Provost of the College of Letters and Science and Professor of History and Philosophy, commented that "Pauline is a superb leader and a terrific human being, both in talent and in character. There's a world of difference - all positive - between the Humanities that she found at UCLA in 1994 and what she'll be leaving after nine amazing years. Pauline has raised the bar, and now it will be up to UCLA to leap even higher."

Professor Yu succeeds John H. D'Arms, who died in January 2002. After the death of President D'Arms, the ACLS Board appointed Francis Oakley, President Emeritus of Williams College and a former Chair of the ACLS Board, as Interim President until a national search could identify a permanent successor.

Patricia Meyer Spacks takes this opportunity to thank the members of the Search Committee. Sandra T. Barnes, a member of the ACLS Board of Directors and Professor of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, and Neil L. Rudenstine, President Emeritus of Harvard University, served as Co-Chairs of the Search Committee. Other members of the Committee were Anne Betteridge, Director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Arizona, and former Executive Director of the Middle East Studies Association and former member of the ACLS Conference of Administrative Officers; Marshall Cohen, Professor of Philosophy and Law, University of Southern California (currently serving as Vice Chair of the Board of ACLS); Nancy S. Dye, President of Oberlin College and a member of the ACLS Board, and Theodore Ziolkowski, Professor of English at Princeton University and ACLS Delegate from the American Philosophical Society. Professor Spacks served on the Search Committee as ex officio.

The American Council of Learned Societies is the pre-eminent private humanities organization in the United States. A non-profit organization founded in 1919, it is a federation of 66 national learned societies in the humanities and social sciences. The purpose of the Council, as set forth in its constitution, is "the advancement of humanistic studies in all fields of learning in the humanities and social sciences and the maintenance and strengthening of relations among national societies devoted to such studies." The ACLS is perhaps best known as a funder of humanities research through fellowships and grants awarded to individuals and, on occasion, to groups and institutions. The Council will award more than $5 million in such fellowships in 2003. The ACLS draws together learned societies, affiliates, and college and university associates for consideration of shared concerns, particularly those related to maintaining and improving conditions for scholarship, education and communication among scholars in the humanities.

Citation: , " Pauline R. Yu Named as Next President of The American Council of Learned Societies," SBL Forum , n.p. [cited Feb 2006]. Online:


© 2021, Society of Biblical Literature. All Rights Reserved.