Constance “Connie” Chin, former administrative manager at the Center for East Asian Studies (CEAS) who had also worked in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, died on Aug. 6. She was 74.

Connie Chin (Image credit: Courtesy Connie Chin's family)

Chin worked at Stanford for 43 years and retired in December 2019.

“Connie exemplified the intellectual curiosity, passion for lifelong learning and global understanding that contributed to Stanford’s unique environment for generations of students, faculty and staff,” said John Groschwitz, associate director of the Center for East Asian Studies (CEAS).

Jean Oi, the William Haas Professor on Chinese Politics who had worked closely with Chin since 1998, remembered Chin’s commitment to the center’s programmatic success and its close-knit community, which she would demonstrate through actions like organizing congenial events and cooking Chinese New Year treats. “Connie was the institutional memory of CEAS, the keeper of traditions, as well as an advocate of any reforms that would strengthen the program,” Oi said.

Ronald Egan, professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures (EALC), worked closely with Chin during his time as department chair at EALC. Egan remembers Chin as a dedicated colleague whose enthusiasm “showed in the special attention she gave to our joint Commencement ceremonies every June, and in the extra time, she would spend on campus to help out with special talks and other events. It also showed in the caring and humane way she consistently responded to anyone – students, faculty, staff – who approached her with a question or an issue that concerned them.”

Chin was an avid participant in Stanford life, attending numerous lectures and studying Sogdian, a Central Asian language. Her article, “Climate Change and Migrations of People during the Jin Dynasty,” was published in the Early Medieval China Journal.

Together with Stanford Professor Emeritus Albert Dien, Chin started the alumni and friends newsletter, East Asia Horizons, and jointly ran the Silk Road evening lecture series at CEAS for 20 years. Chin was also instrumental in the launch of the Stanford Center for Buddhist Studies in 1997.

A graduate of Oberlin College, Chin studied Chinese at the Chinese University of Hong Kong while writing for the South China Morning Post. She also taught English at Tunghai University in Taiwan, where she began to study classical Chinese.

During her time at Stanford, Chin pursued her own graduate work at San Jose State, earning in 2012 a master’s degree in ancient and medieval history concentrating on the history of the Silk Road.

An adventurer at heart, Chin traveled by train across Mongolia and the northern Silk Road in 2013, staying with nomads in Mongolia; talking with Han, Uyghurs and Tibetans in northwest China; exploring museums and archaeological sites; and walking the streets of Silk Road cities.

Chin is survived by her son David Chin, daughter-in-law Regan Scott-Chin, and grandchildren Maxwell and Clara; and her siblings Myra Jane Ramseur, Susan Füglistaler, Carol Calvin and Joseph Powell.

EALC faculty feel moved to remember Connie through what best represents her intellectual interests: a writing prize for graduate students. The Connie Chin Prize for Excellence in Writing will be a competitive award of $500 offered annually to the best paper by an EALC or CEAS graduate student, on any topic related to East Asian Studies, as judged by an ad-hoc panel of CEAS-affiliated faculty.

This award will be administered by CEAS on behalf of both CEAS and EALC. Donations of any amount can be made online. Please remember to note “Connie Chin Prize” in the box for Special Instructions.