New Timothy Dwight master named: historian Mary Lui

April 15, 2015

It gives us great pleasure to announce the appointment of Mary Lui as the next master of Timothy Dwight College for a five-year term, effective July 1, 2015.

A member of the faculty of the Departments of American Studies and History, Professor Lui currently serves as director of graduate studies in American Studies and was the recipient of the Graduate Mentor Award in the Humanities last year. She is also affiliated with Yale’s programs in Ethnicity, Race, and Migration and in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

Professor Lui specializes in Asian American history, urban history, women and gender studies, and public history. Her undergraduate courses include “Asian American History, 1800 to the Present” and “Asian American History and Historiography,” which uses both recently published texts and established works that have shaped the field to consider the political and academic roots of Asian American history and its relationship to “mainstream” U.S. history.

Her first book, The Chinatown Trunk Mystery: Murder, Miscegenation, and Other Dangerous Encounters in Turn-of-the-Century New York City, uses an unsolved murder case from 1909 to examine race, gender, and interracial sexual relations in the formation of New York City’s Chinatown. The work was awarded a 2007 best book prize for history from the Association of Asian American Studies. She is now working on a book entitled, Making Model Minorities: Asian Americans, Race, and Citizenship in Cold War America at Home and Abroad, which looks at Asian American and U.S. cultural diplomacy in Asia in the early years of the Cold War.

Professor Lui came to Yale in 2000 after receiving her Ph.D. in history from Cornell University. She earned an A.B. from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public Affairs at Princeton University, with a certificate in East Asian studies. She has held appointments at the Chicago History Museum (as public historian), at Williams College (as a Charles Gaius Bolin Fellow and seminar instructor in history), and at the Museum of Chinese in the Americas (as a curator). She has published widely in journals and anthologies, and has been invited to give talks at the University of Chicago, Boston College, Leibniz University, the University of California-Berkeley, and Williams College, among others, and in universities in China and Japan.

Professor Lui and her husband, Associate Master Vincent Balbarin, bring their collective passion for the arts, humanities, math, and sciences to Timothy Dwight. Professor Lui was born in Hong Kong and raised in New Jersey—where, growing up in her family’s Chinese restaurant, she developed her love for food. Vincent Balbarin is Filipino American, born and raised in the Chicago area. He has been an ardent basketball fan since Michael Jordan’s rookie years and holds a deep appreciation for jazz. He graduated from Northwestern University and earned a Ph.D. in chemistry at Cornell University, and is now a solutions architect for Yale Information Technology Services.

Their two sons, Mateo and Octavio, are 11 and 8 years old respectively and are devoted to their high energy, happy-go-lucky Lakeland Terrier, Chloe. The brothers enjoy construction (whether with Legos or Minecraft), art, and printmaking. They also share a love of music: Mateo plays everything from American and Irish fiddle tunes to pop songs to classical pieces on his violin, and Octavio likes to tinker with his piano, picking out Muppets themes. The boys play soccer, swim, and ski, and Octavio also does ballet. They are enthusiastic sports fans and look forward to cheering on the TD intramural teams. All of the family are eager to share their extensive and quirky collection of table-top games, ranging from classics such as Scrabble to lesser-known gems including King of Tokyo, Seven Wonders, and Dixit. 

We wish to take this opportunity to thank the members of the search committee—Deborah Davis (chair), Omer Bajwa, Richard Burger, Lydia Keating ’17, Carl Kreitzberg ’16, Maria Quinonez ’16, Kishwar Rizvi, and Daniel Stein ’15—for their thoughtful work, and to reiterate our gratitude to Master Jeff Brenzel for his service to the college and its students.

Please join us in welcoming Professor Mary Lui and her family to the TD community!


Peter Salovey
President and Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology

Jonathan Holloway

Dean of Yale College; Edmund S. Morgan Professor of American Studies, African American Studies, and History

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