Wistia Video URL

Historian Erika Lee to Deliver Commencement Address for Class of 2022

An award-winning author focusing on immigration, Lee, J91, is among six honorary degree recipients, part of a commencement week that includes a celebration for Class of 2020 graduates

Award-winning historian, scholar, and author Erika Lee, J91, will deliver the commencement address to the Class of 2022 on Sunday, May 22.

Lee will speak at the Class of 2022 all-university ceremony, which will also be broadcast online. The 2022 commencement festivities will be the first since 2019 to include a large scale in-person celebration for graduates and their families and friends. 

A similar in-person celebration for the undergraduate Class of 2020 will be held the following Friday, May 27. The commencement speaker and honorary degree recipients for that ceremony will be announced at a later date.

Lee is one of the nation’s leading historians of immigration and the Asian American experience. The author of four award-winning books, she is Regents Professor of History and Asian American Studies and director of the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota.

Lee’s latest book is America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States. Published in 2019, it won the American Book Award and the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, and was named to best books lists by Time, USA Today and Ms. Magazine. Additionally, it was highlighted by the Washington Post, the New York Times and the New York Public Library as one of the most important books informing essential issues in the 2020 election.

She is also author of At America’s Gates: Chinese Immigration during the Exclusion Era, 1882-1943; Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America, co-authored with Judy Yung; and The Making of Asian America: A History.

The Making of Asian America: A History received the 2015 Asian Pacific American Award for Literature from the American Library Association, and was named an Editor’s Choice by the New York Times and one of the Best Nonfiction Books of 2015 by Kirkus Reviews.

Ramesh Govindan, M22

Meet the Class of 2022

Get to know some of Tufts' newest (soon-to-be) alumni. Prepare to be surprised, delighted—and inspired.

At the Immigration History Research Center, Lee directs several digital humanities projects, including the Immigrant Stories Project, which works with recent immigrants and refugees to collect, preserve, and share their experiences; the #ImmigrationSyllabus, a digital educational resource offering historical perspectives on contemporary immigration debates; and Immigrants in COVID America, a publicly accessible resource exploring the impact of the pandemic on immigrants and refugees in the United States.

Known for her advocacy work as well as her scholarship, Lee testified before Congress in its historic hearing on anti-AAPI discrimination and violence.

She has received numerous honors and awards, including the Asian Pacific American Advocates Pioneer Award and the Immigrant Heritage Award from the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation. Lee was recently elected president of the Organization of American Historians and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

A regular commentator in the media, Lee has been featured in interviews in PBS shows Asian Americans and The Chinese Exclusion Act, in the History Channel’s America: The Promised Land, and Bill Moyer’s Chinese in America. Her opinion pieces have been published in the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and Time.

The granddaughter of Chinese immigrants, Lee grew up in the San Francisco Bay area. After graduating from Tufts in 1991 with a Bachelor of Arts in history, Lee received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.

“Lee’s writing and advocacy work has illuminated the Asian American experience, illustrating how history informs the immediate present,” said Anthony P. Monaco, Tufts University president. “We look forward to welcoming her back to the Tufts campus to celebrate the Class of 2022, her fellow Jumbos.”

At commencement, which begins at 9 a.m. on the academic quad of Tufts’ Medford/Somerville campus, Lee will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. Five other distinguished women and men will receive honorary degrees:

Callie Crossley

Callie Crossley, award-winning journalist, commentator, and storyteller. Crossley is the host of Basic Black on WGBH-TV in Boston, which focuses on current events impacting communities of color. She also hosts the radio show and podcast Under the Radar with Callie Crossley on Boston’s GBH Radio, and contributes to GBH Radio’s Morning Edition. A former producer for ABC News’ 20/20, Crossley guest-lectures at colleges and universities about media literacy, media, politics, and the intersection of race, gender, and media. She has won multiple TV, radio, and film awards, and was nominated for an Academy Award for her work as producer on the acclaimed documentary series Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years. A Wellesley College alumna, she was both a Nieman Fellow and an Institute of Politics Fellow at Harvard University. Crossley will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

Pablo Eduardo

Pablo Eduardo, sculptor. A Bolivian-born exile, Eduardo’s artwork captures a snapshot of artistic metamorphosis, and simultaneously celebrates rhythm, emotion, texture, and tension. Eduardo attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts and earned his B.F.A. degree in 1994. As an undergraduate, he learned about the body’s potential for artistic manifestation and honed his understanding of the human form by studying anatomy at Tufts University School of Medicine. Today, he unifies the disciplines of art and medicine with an intimate sense of natural dynamism in each sculpture, elegantly deconstructing his subjects and then resurrecting them in bronze. Among his notable public art installations is a 10-foot interactive bronze sculpture of former Boston Mayor Kevin White, prominently featured at Boston’s Faneuil Hall. Eduardo will receive an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree.

Jane Frommer

Jane Frommer, groundbreaking nanoscientist. Frommer credits her ease in crossing boundaries between disciplines with courses she took in the Experimental College as a chemistry major at Tufts. After graduating from Tufts in 1976 and completing a Ph.D. in organometallic chemistry from Caltech, Frommer led groundbreaking research on the nanoscale—before the term nanotechnology was even coined—and its application to practical real-world problems in research, development, and manufacturing quality. Since leaving her role as principal investigator at IBM Research in 2018, Frommer has been engaged as an advisor to Google in efforts to make vast troves of molecular data available to scientists and the public. She also plays an active role mentoring and collaborating with young scientists in California. Frommer will receive an honorary Doctor of Science degree.

Lonnie King

Lonnie King, veterinarian and One Health pioneer. King’s distinguished global career in animal and public health has included numerous leadership roles, including as dean for three colleges. King was the first director of the National Center for Zoonotic, Vector-Borne, and Enteric Diseases at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 1992, King was appointed administrator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, where he worked to ensure the health and care of animals and plants, improve agricultural productivity and competitiveness, and contribute to the national economy and public health. He has served most recently as the interim dean of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at his alma mater, The Ohio State University, where he also served as the vice president for agriculture. King will receive an honorary Doctor of Science degree.

Asad M. Madni

Asad M. Madni, innovator and engineer. From 1992 until the completion of its $600 million acquisition by Schneider Electric in 2006, Madni served as president, COO, and CTO of BEI Technologies. At BEI, he led the development and commercialization of intelligent sensors, systems, and instrumentation, including work on the Hubble Space Telescope and in passenger vehicle stability control and rollover protection. Prior to BEI, Madni was with Systron Donner Corporation for 18 years in senior technical and executive positions, eventually as chairman, president, and CEO. He is currently on the faculty of his alma mater UCLA, and also holds a Ph.D. from California Coast University. In recognition of his nearly 50-year career, the honor society of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers named its top award in his honor in 2019. Madni will receive an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree.

Madni will also address graduates of the School of Engineering as part of their commencement celebration on May 22.

In addition, Anand Mahindra, chairman of The Mahindra Group and non-executive chairman of Mahindra & Mahindra, Ltd., will deliver the keynote address at The Fletcher School at Tufts University’s Class Day on May 21.

Ambassador Ertharin Cousin, former leader of the United Nations World Food Programme and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture, will address graduates of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy on Sunday, May 22.

Robin Smyton can be reached at robin.smyton@tufts.edu.

Back to Top