Obituary on the passing of Professor Tsung Chin (University of Maryland), published in JCLTA (May 2006) 41.2:iv-vi.
On behalf of the Chinese Language Teachers Association Board of Directors, I wish to express our deepest condolences at the passing of Professor Tsung Chin, our esteemed colleague from the University of Maryland. As an Associate Professor of Chinese Language and Linguistics in the Department of Asian and East European Languages and Cultures since 1969, Professor Chin was a member of our Association for nearly forty years. Only a handful of our Association membership can lay claim to having been a member of our Association for as long a period of time. In the years that he taught Chinese language and linguistics at UCLA, USC, Yale, Georgetown and Maryland, Professor Chin incessantly endeavored by both word and action to promote the cause of Chinese language instruction.
Professor Chin was a tireless advocate of excellence in Chinese language education. The sheer joy that Professor Chin derived and propagated in working toward this goal with his fellow Chinese instructor colleagues was never more apparent than when he received our Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award – named for his University of Maryland colleague Ronald Walton – as seen in the photo that we are proud to have grace the home page of our website. All of us well remember our delight at encountering Professor Chin at our annual meeting, when his clear-eyed vigorous handshake and firm embrace left no doubt in anyone’s mind the sincere genuineness of this man and his joy at advancing common goals in concert with his professional peers.
But of course, we all know that the enormity of Professor Chin’s contribution to our field is only truly grasped when we pause to appreciate his lifelong work dedicated to promoting the teaching and study of Chinese calligraphy. The Chinese calligraphy course started by Professor Chin at the University of Maryland in the early 1980s became one of the most popular courses in the School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures. Professor Chin’s founding and stewardship of the Calligraphy Education Group sponsored by our Association was a monumental labor of love, dedicated to promoting the understanding of Chinese culture and language through calligraphy. There was an overwhelming interest in Professor Chin’s work as carried out in the Calligraphy Education Group, from participants in special sessions over the years at our annual meetings, to the attendees of several international conferences that he sponsored, to the endless accolades heaped upon him by admirers of his work. The calligraphy exhibitions and demonstrations Professor Chin organized drew literally crowds of observers at our annual meeting – they were easily one of the biggest draws of the conference. Himself an expert practitioner in the art that he loved and so assiduously promoted, when placing brush to parchment Professor Chin displayed a certainty of stroke yet deftness of touch that was the marvel of the other masters present.
We seek to continue Professor Chin’s lifelong work in the promotion of Chinese language instruction, and will strive to continue his dream to have the study and mastery of Chinese calligraphy be appreciated around the globe. Of course, we in the Association will work to continue Professor Chin’s invaluable efforts in this area, but in no sense can we even begin to replicate Professor Chin’s individual contributions. While it is difficult for us to imagine how any individual could match Professor Chin’s exuberance in promoting Chinese calligraphy as an important part of Chinese language and culture, we will nonetheless rely on our fond memories of Professor Chin’s enduring strength to sustain our collective energies as we strive to carry on the important work that Professor Chin so tirelessly performed on behalf of our Chinese language teaching field.
With Sincerity, for the Chinese Language Teachers Association Board of Directors,
Jerome L. Packard
University of Illinois
April 16, 2006