Hunter College has named Daniel Woo as the inaugural Helen Zia Distinguished Lecturer in Asian American Studies. Woo also will function as deputy director of Hunter’s Asian American Studies Program & Center, assisting Director Vivian Louie.
“I am so delighted to welcome Dr. Daniel Woo to Asian American Studies at Hunter College, especially as we mark the 30th anniversary of Asian American Studies at the college. Our wonderful students, alumni, faculty and staff are so excited to work with Dr. Woo,” said Louie. “I so appreciate the incredibly generous gift and college leadership that made possible a post in honor of Helen Zia.”
Zia, a prominent Asian American activist and writer, is a mainstay of the Asian American and Pacific Islander movement: Her 2000 book Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People is considered a primary text of Asian American Studies. The daughter of Chinese immigrants, Zia received an honorary doctorate of law from the CUNY School of Law in 2000 in recognition of her efforts to advance racial and LGBTQ justice.
The distinguished lecturer position was funded by a $1 million gift to the Hunter College Foundation from two anonymous donors. Hunter’s Asian American Studies Program & Center is CUNY’s largest such undergraduate center and plays an important role in combating anti-Asian hatred and violence, as well as offering diverse courses, programs, and research activities. More than 1,200 Hunter students take Asian American Studies courses each calendar year, with about 40 student minors every semester. Hunter’s students, alumni, faculty and staff are deeply engaged with Asian American communities in New York City and across the state.
“I am deeply humbled to serve as the inaugural Helen Zia Distinguished Lecturer and deputy director of the Asian American Studies Program & Center at such a historical juncture,” said Woo. “I am excited to work alongside our exceptional teaching faculty, students, and staff to support and advance a critical lineage of Asian American social thought, scholarship, and activism in the tradition of Helen Zia.”
Woo has a doctorate in Ethnic Studies from UC Berkeley and comes to Hunter after serving as a postdoctoral research fellow in the American Culture Studies Program at Washington University in St. Louis. His research and teaching interests include Asian American history, relational race studies, and Afro Asian politics in social movements and popular culture. He started in the position on August 25, 2023.