Feb. 23, 2005
CUA Community Mourns Death of Long-time Sociology
Professor Che-Fu Lee
Taiwan Native was Instrumental in
Bringing Study of Sociology Back to Mainland China
Potomac, Md., resident Che-Fu Lee, professor of sociology at The Catholic
University of America, died on Feb. 9, 2005. The 63-year-old had been
hospitalized for pneumonia and seemed to be improving when he died of heart
Lee was known as a respected scholar and inspiring teacher
during his 34-year tenure at CUA. He was the author of more than 70 articles,
books, book chapters and papers, and was awarded multiple research grants and
contracts from various government agencies. His main research
interests centered on quantitative methods and demography. In 1975-76 he
lectured in Iran
as a senior adviser for population and development, a position sponsored by the
United Nations. His other research interests ranged widely, from drug abuse,
health care and education to international development.
Lee held memberships in the American Sociological Association,
Population Association of America, American
Academy of Political and
Social Sciences and North American Association of Chinese Sociologists. In 1981 he received the Emory Borgardus Award for research from Alpha Kappa Delta, an international sociology honor society, at their 11th
Annual Sociological Research Symposium.
In his later years he devoted much of his energy to the analysis of
social change in China.
Lee and his colleagues at Nankai
University in Tianjin, China,
were instrumental in re-starting sociology programs in mainland China in the
“The rapid growth of sociology as an empirical discipline and of
demography in China
was largely due to this group of pioneers who encouraged mutual exchanges by
experts in these academic disciplines,” said CUA Sociology Professor Dean Hoge.
During the past decade Lee traveled to China
about once a year, at times being commissioned by the leaders of various
agencies in the People’s Republic of China to advise them on specific
topics such as minority groups, literacy and tourism.
He strove for
years to improve relations between Taiwan and the PRC. According to Hoge,
he succeeded in winning the confidence of government leaders on both sides in
their attempt to resolve conflict and improve cooperation.
Lee was born in Taiwan
on December 5, 1941. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural
engineering from the National
in 1963. He came to the United States for graduate work in the area of
sociology, earning the Master of Arts degree from Oklahoma
in 1967 and the Ph.D. from the University
of North Carolina at Chapel
Hill in 1971.
He then joined the faculty at The Catholic University of
America, where he taught until his death. He served as chair of the Department
of Sociology from 1984 to 1985 and again from 1996 to 2002. He
was appointed director of the Life
Cycle Institute (a social science research center) and served in that post from
1985 to 1988.
At the time of Lee’s death he was working on a book about
the demographic profile of China.
Given his research experience in many areas of sociology, he became an adviser
to numerous graduate students during his tenure at CUA. Known for his patience,
he was appreciated so much by his former students that many who had graduated
years ago traveled cross-country to attend his funeral, held Feb. 15 in Washington, D.C.
“He was a committed faculty member, a popular and effective
teacher, a prolific scholar, an effective mentor of doctoral students and a good
colleague,” CUA Provost John Convey said in his eulogy for Lee. “Professors
live on through their writings and they live on in a much more personal way in
the minds and hearts of their students. Over the years, Che-Fu
Lee touched the lives of many students who will never forget him,” Convey said.
Lee is survived by his wife, Ling, his two daughters, Conn Lee Martin of Garrett Park, Md., and Tien Lee Pasco, of Washington,
D.C., and six grandchildren.
MEDIA: For more information, contact Chris Harrison in the CUA Office of
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