University of Puget Sound Creates The Suzanne Wilson Barnett Chair of Contemporary China Studies

May 2, 2018

College strengthens its reputation as a center of excellence for the study of China; New chair honors professor emerita of history

TACOMA, Wash. – University of Puget Sound is excited to announce the establishment of The Suzanne Wilson Barnett Chair of Contemporary China Studies, a new endowed faculty position central to the college’s expansion of its Asian Studies Program.

The creation of the new chair, named for Professor Emerita of History Suzanne Wilson Barnett, is a major step in Puget Sound’s strategy to strengthen its reputation as a center for excellence in the study of contemporary China, building on decades of scholarly interaction and partnerships with universities in the Pacific Rim.

“The new chair and the enhanced focus on China will grow Puget Sound’s international reputation in the interdisciplinary study of Asian societies, where we already excel,” said Puget Sound President Isiaah Crawford. “Faculty and students across a range ofdisciplines will gain new opportunities for research abroad, for creating transpacific partnerships, and for establishing themselves as authorities in a dynamic and thriving region that is growing at more than twice the rate of the United States. It is an exciting time in the Pacific Rim and an important moment in the history of Puget Sound.”

An international search for the new chair was announced today at a special Asian Studies Celebration in Trimble Hall, where Asian studies faculty, students, and staff; senior administrators; and others involved in the new venture gathered.

Suzanne Wilson Barnett taught at Puget Sound from 1973 to 2007 and was a central figure in the launch of the Asian Studies Program more than 40 years ago. She served as its director from 1974 to 1989. A Harvard University graduate, exceptional teacher, and respected scholar, she shared her enthusiasm for Chinese history and for disciplined, effective writing with hundreds of students throughout her distinguished career at Puget Sound.

In 2002 Barnett was selected as the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching Washington Professor of the Year, an award given by Carnegie and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, and in 2006 she was awarded the college’s Walter Lowrie Sustained Service Award. She has held leadership positions in several national historical and Asian studies organizations and remains an active and popular figure around campus.

Barnett earned her bachelor's degree in history and German from Muskingum College in Ohio, and at Harvard earned both a master's degree in East Asian studies and a doctorate in history and East Asian languages. She is co-editor of Asia in the Undergraduate Curriculum: A Case for Asian Studies in Liberal Arts Education (Routledge, 2000) and of Christianity in China (Harvard University Press, 1985).

Provost Kristine Bartanen said the expansion of Puget Sound’s Asian Studies Program will further enhance students’ experiences, including through a growing array of high-impact learning opportunities.

“Our scholarly interactions with Asia are already at a high level, with faculty exchange programs, research trips, our signature nine-month Pacific Rim Study Abroad Program, culture and language studies in Chinese and Japanese, and the Asian field schools that provide a myriad of on-site experiential-based learning opportunities in multiple countries in Asia,” Bartanen said. “The faculty member hired into the new chair will help to carry these efforts forward and prepare our students for potential international careers or for service at home, underpinned by a solid understanding of contemporary China.”

The Suzanne Wilson Barnett Chair of Contemporary China Studies has been established through a gift from The Trimble Foundation. The Trimble Foundation and Trimble family, which have long-standing personal connections to China, have made numerous gifts to Puget Sound, supporting student scholarships, faculty exchanges, visiting scholars, and capital projects critical to the college’s educational mission.

Press photos of Suzanne Wilson Barnett can be downloaded from

Photo on page: Suzanne Wilson Barnett, by Ross Mulhausen

Tweet this: New endowed chair @univpugetsound for contemporary studies of #China is named for Prof. Emerita Suzanne Wilson Barnett. #LoggerPride in our growing center of excellence for #Chinastudies in the #PacificNorthwest.

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