Eugene H. Liu, Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

caption: Eugene H. LiuEugene H. Liu, emeritus professor of Chinese language and Chinese history in Penn’s Asian and Middle Eastern Studies department in the School of Arts and Sciences, died on January 27. He was 81.

Dr. Liu joined the Penn faculty in 1974 after spending two years on the faculty of Middlebury College. In his 25 years at Penn, he oversaw the four-fold expansion of the Chinese program as coordinator and was instrumental in leading it to become the best and largest Chinese studies program in the nation. He received numerous teaching awards and won recognition as the highest-rated instructor throughout the College of Arts and Sciences. He was proud that his students went on to become executives, U.S. ambassadors and distinguished scholars in Chinese studies.

In 1984, Dr. Liu joined the Joseph H. Lauder Institute of Management & International Studies program as director and curriculum coordinator of the Chinese Language and Cultural Perspectives program, serving in this role for 15 years. During this time, he also directed the popular and prestigious summer immersion program for Lauder students in China and later Taiwan.

While at Penn, Dr. Liu created the calligraphy that accompanied a front page article (Almanac September 9, 1980) on the educational exchange between the University of Pennsylvania and Shanghai Jiao Tong. He held a number of visiting positions at Cornell University, University of Maryland and Rutgers University. 

Dr. Liu served as consultant for a number of major corporations and foundations, including the Aetna Insurance Company, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the National Council on Foreign Language and International Studies, the American Council on Teaching Foreign Languages and the Center for Applied Linguistics.

Dr. Liu authored a number of books, including Chinese Cultural Reader, Chinese Newspaper Readings and A Culinary Excursion Through China. His book, Chinese Language for Business, became the long-serving textbook standard for many universities.

In 1980, Dr. Liu won a major grant by the National Endowment for the Humanities aimed at developing a program for Chinese business language instruction. He was a pioneer in integrating technology into language learning, and was one of the earliest to co-author and implement an IBM PC-based language learning and testing system at a university.

Dr. Liu was born in Beijing, China. He received his bachelor’s degree from Nankai University in Tianjin, and later earned his doctorate in modern Chinese history. Early in his career, he served as reporter, editor and columnist for Sing Tao Daily News, editor for the Scientific World Monthly and correspondent for Voice of America in Hong Kong.

He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Tina; children John and Robert, C’90; and grandchildren, Mia, Gabrielle, Ella and Emmy.

Contributions in his memory may be made to SAS at Penn: