Woman smiling outdoors
10.25.2021
By Roanoke College News

Xu named John R. Turbyfill Professor of History

Dr. Stella Xu, who has been teaching history at Roanoke College since 2006, has been named the John R. Turbyfill Professor of History.

The endowed faculty chair position gives Xu a two-course release from teaching, a stipend and a research fund. This time and funding allow Xu the freedom to build new classes on Asian American history and pursue her second book, a study of a major conflict in East Asia in the 7th century that had a huge impact on the region. Xu published her first book, “Reconstructing Ancient Korean History: The Formation of Korean-ness in the Shadow of History,” in 2017.

Xu also is creating new courses, including one on the history of the United States and China in the 20th century and one on the history of Asian Americans. Violence against Asian Americans surged in 2020 in the United States, and Xu said further awareness of Asian American history could help prevent these incidents from happening in the future.

“Last year, there were so many tragic, unfortunate things happening to the Asian American community,” Xu said. “I think there are many intellectuals in this field, and we all feel that the first step is to have as many people as possible know about the history of Asian Americans.”

“Last year, there were so many tragic, unfortunate things happening to the Asian American community. I think there are many intellectuals in this field, and we all feel that the first step is to have as many people as possible know about the history of Asian Americans.”

Dr. Stella Xu, John R. Turbyfill Professor of History

Xu was born in China, went to school in Korea and earned her Ph.D. at UCLA before coming to Roanoke.

The East Asian Studies concentration program at Roanoke has proven to be an intimate and successful group of students. Though there are only about 20 students in the program, Xu said, they have excelled at Roanoke and beyond.

Over the past decade, more than two dozen East Asian Studies majors have earned a number of competitive national scholarships and fellowships. They’ve traveled and studied all over the world with the help of Fulbright, Gilman and Freeman Asia scholarships.

“I’m extremely happy and proud of our students,” Xu said. “When you think about the size of our program, this is exceptional.”