Robert Oxnam, Class of 1964

Sometime professor of history at Trinity College, novelist, and authority on 17th-century and modern Chinese history, by training and inclination you appreciate both the richness, breadth and distinctiveness of the various Asian cultures and the vital and growing importance of Asian and American cooperation in establishing mutual understanding. One of your stated goals, when you became president of the Asia Society in 1981, was to create “Asian literacy” among Americans, and, during your 11-year tenure at the only American educational institution concerned with the whole of Asia, you pressed thoughtfully and diligently to further that aim, developing educational materials for primary and secondary schools, and furthering programs in the arts and current affairs at Asia Society centers in Washington, D.C., Houston and Los Angeles in this country, as well as in Hong Kong. While helping to expand the society’s endowment from $4 million in 1981 to $14 million in 1992, you also developed thousands of programs—among them a corporate conference held in Taiwan to explore the Asian economy, central Asian music, dance and film, and a symposium on Thailand’s economic and political development held to honor the Queen of Thailand on her 60th birthday—an exercise in leadership that has served to attract growing numbers of people to the pleasures and benefits of learning more about Asian religions, cultures, economies and politics. In recognition of your distinguished achievement as president of the Asia Society, Williams College is proud to honor you with its Bicentennial Medal.