Annual Chinese Studies lecture series moves forward after loss of its namesake
Philanthropist Sammy Lee will be remembered at the 24th annual Sammy Lee Lecture in Chinese Archaeology and Art on Nov. 5.
For a man with limited formal education, Sammy Yukuan Lee certainly took on the world. Born and raised in a small farming village in rural China, there was little opportunity for Lee to continue his studies beyond sixth grade, and job prospects were few and far between.
Despite this, Lee grew to become a successful international businessman specializing in Chinese antiques at a time when international travel was not common. His business philosophy was built on respect and trust, and he strongly believed in the importance of education, cultural awareness and art preservation.
“Sammy Lee was an extraordinary person,” says Professor Yunxiang Yan, director of the UCLA Center for Chinese Studies. “His success stemmed from his integrity, business acumen and ability to connect with all people.”
For nearly 30 years, Lee, who died in September at the age of 109, supported a variety of UCLA programs and projects, including undergraduate scholarships for students, the New Approaches to Chinese Studies lecture series and the annual Sammy Lee Lecture in Chinese Archaeology and Art.
“His reverence for Chinese art and culture, commitment to higher education, and the enjoyment of a full and vibrant life leaves a legacy for us all to follow,” says Howard Lee, one of Sammy Lee’s five sons.
Established in 1982, the annual Sammy Yukuan Lee Lecture on Chinese Art and Archaeology brings outstanding scholars from all over the world to UCLA. It has created a unique platform for cross-cultural communication, knowledge dissemination, scholarly exchange and connoisseurship of Chinese antiques and arts for faculty and students, as well as the general public in southern California, says Yan.
This year’s event, which will feature a tribute to Lee, will be held Nov. 5 in the Lenart Auditorium of the Fowler Museum at 2 p.m. Jonathan Hay, a fine arts professor from New York University, will speak about the pre-Qing history of Beijing and the role of an oceanic imaginary in the city's urbanism and in the symbolism of its imperial monuments. Much of the lecture will explore the hypothesis that the initial construction of Ming Beijing from 1403 onwards was marked by the great maritime expeditions undertaken by Zheng He between 1405 and 1433.