Zhao Yuanren is appointed to a one year renewable position at Harvard as Instructor of Chinese. In the spring of 1922, Zhao offers the first class in Chinese to be taught at Harvard since the death of Ge Kunhua. The half-year course is entitled “Chinese 1: Introduction to the Chinese Language.”


Zhao’s introductory course is expanded into a year-long class.


The Chinese curriculum is expanded into two year-long courses (one introductory, one advanced), which are both taught by Zhao.


Wallace Brett Donham, Dean of the Graduate School of Business Administration and founder of the case study method, establishes relations between the trustees of the Hall estate and Harvard University. Donham later becomes a long-standing member of the HYI Board of Trustees.


Mei Guangdi 梅光迪 replaces Zhao Yuanren as Instructor of Chinese.


In addition to the introductory and advanced Chinese language courses, Mei adds a class on Chinese thought and literature to the curriculum. The course is entitled “Chinese 3: Introduction to the Literature and Philosophy of China.”


Mei Guangdi further expands the Chinese curriculum, offering a total of five year-long courses. He expands the Chinese language program into three years, continues to offer his literature and philosophy course, and adds a new “Special Studies” course. The special studies class, entitled “Chinese 20,” continues in subsequent years, and appears to be the primary venue through which graduate students are trained.

1928, January 4

Harvard-Yenching Institute formally incorporated. First meeting of Trustees.

1928, April 25

HYI Trustees approve funding for first visiting professorships, appointing Paul Pelliot, Lucius C. Porter, Baron Alexander von Staël-Holstein, and William Hung for the 1928-29 academic year. These scholars all offer classes in 1928-29 which, in addition to Mei’s ongoing three year course in the Chinese language, dramatically expand the number of courses available on East Asian subjects.

1928-29, Fall

Professor Paul Pelliot, visiting for one semester from the College de France, teaches “Chinese 10: The Chief Periods in the History of Chinese Art.” 23 students enroll, more than the total enrollment in all other Chinese courses combined.

1928-29, Spring

First class in Tibetan taught at Harvard. The course is offered by Professor Baron Alexander von Staël-Holstein of Yenching University and entitled “Chinese 23: Introduction to the Tibetan Language.” In addition, von Staël-Holstein also teaches “Chinese 21: Introduction to the Kacyapaparivarta.”

First survey course in Chinese history taught at Harvard by Professor William Hung (Hong Ye) of Yenching University. The half-course is titled “Chinese 24: Introduction to the Study of Chinese history.” 3 graduate students enroll.


Professor Lucius Porter of Yenching University teaches a year-long survey course entitled “Chinese 12: Survey of Chinese Thought.”

Enrollment in Mei’s Chinese language classes nearly double from the previous year, increasing to a total of 9 students.

First Harvard University documentation of graduate students whose area of study lay chiefly in Chinese. Five graduate students focus on Chinese studies. While this number increases to as many as ten Harvard students at a time during the years 1928-1936, attrition is evidently quite high, as only a total of three advanced degrees (2 A.M. / 1 Ph.D.) are awarded.


HYI is assigned five rooms in basement of Boylston Hall.

First A.M. degree granted in Chinese.

Wing Tsit Chan is awarded the first Ph.D. in an East Asian subject at Harvard for a dissertation presented to the Department of Philosophy entitled “The Philosophy of Chuang Tzu.”


After the surge of the previous year, course offerings and student enrollments decline. A total of four classes are offered. Mei teaches only two Chinese classes (beginning and intermediate). William Hung remains at Harvard for a second year and teaches “Chinese 11: History of Chinese Civilization.” Together, he and Mei also offer a graduate research class.