Eugenia Lean Appointed Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs

Eugenia Lean, Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures, will assume her new role on July 1, 2022.

January 19, 2022

Dear Colleagues,

I am delighted to announce that Eugenia Lean, Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures, has been appointed the next Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs, and will assume that role on July 1, 2022.

Professor Lean, who is Director of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute and co-directs the Heyman Fellows Seminar at the Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities, has been on the faculty since 2002 and has distinguished herself as a thoughtful and active contributor to the Columbia community. She has served on major Arts and Sciences administrative bodies including the A&S Governance Task Force and the A&S Faculty Budget Committee, and has participated in search committees for key University leadership positions. She is also an outstanding mentor, recognized by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences with the 2013-2014 Faculty Mentoring Award.

As Vice Provost, Professor Lean will lead the development and implementation of the University’s policies governing the appointment of its academic officers, manage the tenure review system, authorize leaves on behalf of the President, and oversee the Office of Faculty Retirement. Professor Lean will be an essential resource for deans, chairs, the University Senate and other offices, as well as individual faculty. Among her areas of focus will be considering potential opportunities to modify or add to existing types of academic appointments to best serve our many schools and our mission as a university.

Professor Lean is a leading scholar of modern Chinese history known for her unique insights into the history of science and industry, mass media, consumer culture, as well as law and urban society. Her book Public Passions: the Trial of Shi Jianqiao and the Rise of Popular Sympathy in Republican China (UC Press, 2007) was awarded the American Historical Association’s John K. Fairbank prize for the best book in modern East Asian history for 2007. Her second book, Vernacular Industrialism in China: Local Innovation and Translated Technologies in the Making of a Cosmetics Empire, 1900-1940 (Columbia University Press, 2020) chronicles the work of entrepreneur Chen Diexian (1879-1940), illustrating how lettered men of early twentieth century China pursued industry and science outside of conventional venues. Among her many honors, in 2008 Professor Lean was featured in History News Network’s “Top Young Historians,” and she received an Institute for Advanced Studies fellowship and a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship for 2017-2018. We are delighted to welcome her to the Office of the Provost.

I would like to extend my deep gratitude to Vice Provost Latha Venkataraman for her ongoing, excellent leadership and outstanding contributions to Columbia, and for having agreed to extend her appointment for this year. I am glad that Professor Lean will be able to work closely with Professor Venkataraman throughout the spring to enable a smooth transition.

Please join me in congratulating Professor Lean on her appointment and in thanking Vice Provost Venkataraman as she concludes her term of service.


Mary C. Boyce
Professor of Mechanical Engineering