Felicia Bock '36 Establishes New Chair

Monday, March 13, 2006 - 16:15

The Mount Holyoke College Board of Trustees has named Jonathan Lipman, professor of history, to be the inaugural holder of the Felicia Gressitt Bock Chair in Asian Studies.

In a recent vote, the Board approved President Joanne V. Creighton's recommendation that Lipman, a longtime Mount Holyoke faculty member, be the first to hold the chair established by Bock, an alumna of the class of 1936, reflecting her lifelong interest and scholarship in Asian culture and languages. Bock currently lives in Hayward, California.

The Felicia Gressitt Bock Chair in Asian Studies is given to a faculty member in Asian Studies, with preference for the academic areas of China or Japan. Felicia Gressitt Bock '36 was born in Tokyo, Japan, where she lived until attending Mount Holyoke at age 15. Felicia, the daughter of Edna Linsley Gressitt 1904, majored in Latin at Mount Holyoke, taught at Kobe College in Japan, and received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Oriental languages from the University of California at Berkeley.

"My mother never let go of Mount Holyoke," said daughter Audie E. Bock, a teacher in Hayward, California. "She attended reunions, stayed in touch with her 'chums,' and raised funds for the Mary Lyon Society while raising three children, earning her Ph.D. in Oriental languages from the University of California at Berkeley, and publishing several books on Japanese early ceremonial law. The Felicia Gressitt Bock Chair in Asian Studies is the culmination of my mother's lifelong commitment to education and giving. Mount Holyoke gave my mother a polished foundation in Latin, Greek, and Western civilization, and she is opening up the side of the world she came from, and later studied in depth, to her successor Holyoke students."

Professor Lipman is an ideal scholar to hold the new chair. Lipman teaches Chinese, Japanese, and Korean history at Mount Holyoke. His scholarly work focuses on Islam and Muslims in China, ethnicity and frontiers in modern Chinese history, "Chineseness" as a component of human identity, and women in modern China. Lipman did his undergraduate work at Harvard and earned both his M.A. and Ph.D. at Stanford. He came to Mount Holyoke in 1977. Author of Familiar Strangers: A History of Muslims in Northwest China (1998) and coauthor of Imperial Japan: Expansion and War (1995), Lipman has also edited two volumes on China and published dozens of articles, book chapters, papers, and reviews. He is currently finishing a textbook, Modern East Asia: An Integrated History, for high school and college students, and beginning a major new research project on the Qingzhen Zhinan(The Compass, or Guide, to Islam), a massive work written in Chinese in the late seventeenth century by Yusuf Ma Zhu.

President Joanne V. Creighton praised Dr. Bock for establishing this new chair and emphasized the importance of her contribution, saying, "Endowed chairs underwrite, in a very real way, the work of the professor whose spirited teaching and research challenge and inspire new generations of students, who then go forward, in Mary Lyon's words, to 'attempt great things' and 'accomplish great things.' Endowed chairs are an important part of the engine that's powering the 'great intellectual and moral machine' that Lyon called Mount Holyoke College."

"I am grateful and honored to be the first Felicia Gressitt Bock Professor of Asian Studies at Mount Holyoke," said Professor Lipman. "As a graduate student, I read Dr. Bock's translations from the Engi-shiki, an important early Japanese text, and became an admirer of her erudition and spirit of perseverance. One of the pioneering women in East Asian studies, she has been and will continue to be an inspiration to our students who dare to take on the difficult languages, cultures, and histories of this vital world area. As a permanent part of our faculty, this new professorship ensures that generations of Mount Holyoke students will benefit from Dr. Bock's courage and generosity."

Related Link:

Jonathan Lipman - Faculty Profile