The Han Zhang and Jinlan Liu Family Foundation gifted William and Mary’s Asian and Pacific Islander American Studies program its first endowment since it was established in 2016.
In a ceremony Friday, faculty, friends and family of Liu packed the room for the signing of the “Jinlan Liu APIA Faculty Research Endowment” to support faculty research and creative work in the field.
Vice Provost of International Affairs Steve Hanson and Dean for Interdisciplinary Studies Teresa Longo were present to sign the endowment.
Liu joined her husband in the United States following the Tiananmen Square Massacre in China in 1988. They set up their own medical practice in New York City.
“When I came here, I only had a penny in my pocket. I never thought I would be standing here at William and Mary to set up a research endowment in my name,” Liu said. “As an immigrant parent, I spent a lot of money and time in order to provide opportunities for my children. It’s important for them and other Asian Americans to understand historical and the current experience of the people of Asian descent.”
APIA presented Liu with the Hatsuye Yamasaki Award for her advocacy as a parent. The award was created to honor the legacy of the first Asian American woman admitted to the college in 1933. Liu’s son, Williamsburg Councilman Benming Zhang, self-designed an Asian American Studies major at the college and received the same award in 2017.
“Let me tell you a little bit about my mom: she’s very headstrong, she likes getting things her own way, but she’s incredibly invested in both her kids’ success. She is passionate about what she does. I’m deeply endowed to my mother and this research endowment is very much an embodiment of who she is as a person,” Zhang said. “Often we see a sharp contrast between black and white but there’s also another story to be told with this vast group and not a monolithic group, called Asian Americans.”
Liu was also gifted an engraved Jefferson Cup, a tradition at the college to honor a surpassed milestone. The 100 Years of Women Anniversary Committee also sent a gift commemorating Liu.
Founding Program Director Francis Tanglao Aguas led the ceremony that closed with a viewing of the documentary film “Why We Need APIA Studies” an Honors project by student Jin Hyuk Ho.
“Ethnic studies didn’t just happen in academia. (They happened) because somebody empowered one another,” Aguas said. “They took place because students like you, and at some point Benny, made it happen. And because these students were supported by parents like Ms. Jinlan.”
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