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A wise advocate

August 21, 2009


University of Minnesota distingished teacher Josephine Lee.

Josephine D. Lee is an associate professor in the Department of English and the Asian American Studies Program in the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

Photo: Patrick O'Leary

Josephine Lee is quick to offer words of advice and encouragement

By Bob San

For someone with a physics degree from MIT, Josephine Lee sure has made an impact on Asian American studies and the performing arts graduate programs at the University. Lee was a founder of the Asian American Studies Initiative that ultimately resulted in the formation of the Asian American Studies Program here. She served as its first director and spearheaded the launch of its minor for undergraduate and graduate students, and also has served as the English department's director of graduate studies.

Lee's scientific background shows through in her savvy use of technologies to teach and connect. One of her greatest achievements is the introduction of CourseShare technology, which links instructors at the U with graduate students at other Big Ten universities.

"This work has been amply rewarded, both by [my students'] successes and by how they deeply enrich and sustain my own intellectual life and work."

Josephine Lee is a 2009 recipient of the Award for Contributions to Postbaccalaureate, Graduate, and Professional Education.

She is also a pioneering scholar. Her 1997 book, Performing Asian America: Race and Ethnicity on the Contemporary Stage, was the first in the world to tackle the issues of Asian American theater history. And she is one of only a handful of faculty in the country who teach Asian American cultural studies at the graduate level and has helped to develop programs nationwide.

To students, Lee is well known as a compassionate advocate who is quick to offer words of advice and encouragement. "Jo captures the very best of what graduate education should be," said a student. "She is a gifted scholar, the staunchest of supporters, and the wisest of leaders. Her students are lucky to have her and she is a model for what I hope to achieve in my own career."

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