World renowned historian and winner of the inaugural Tang Prize in Sinology Prof. Yu Ying-shih passed away peacefully in his sleep in his home in Princeton, New Jersey in the United States on August 1, 2021. Upon hearing the news, founder of the Tang Prize Foundation Dr. Samuel Yin reflected on Prof. Yu’s legacy and expressed deep gratitude for the significant contributions he made to the field of Sinology.
Born on January 22, 1930, Prof. Yu was an esteemed scholar praised for his profound knowledge of China’s intellectual and cultural history and was commonly hailed as the greatest Chinese historian of his generation. He was elected academician of Academia Sinica in 1974, won the 2006 Kluge Prize for his lifelong achievements in the humanities, and was awarded the 2014 Tang Prize in Sinology for his mastery and insight into Chinese intellectual, political, and cultural history. He travelled to Taipei to receive the prize in 2014, which marked one of his rare public appearances in Taiwan in recent years.
Prof. Yu was also known for his tireless effort in supporting the next generation of researchers. He used his NT$10 million (approx. US$ 360,000) Tang Prize grant to set up the “Yu Ying-shih Fellowship for the Humanities.” Awarded from 2015 to 2019 by Academia Sinica’s Institute of History and Philology, this fellowship has acknowledged the hard work done by dozens of young scholars and PhD candidates in the humanities and has fulfilled its mission of promoting research and education in this field.
CEO of the Tang Prize Foundation Dr. Jenn-Chuan Chern sent his sincere condolences to Prof. Yu’s family and colleagues, and recollected that Prof. Yu once told him that Taiwan has built a solid foundation for research in the humanities and social sciences and had the potential to become a leading center for Chinese studies. Prof. Yu hoped the Tang Prize could exert great impact on Taiwan’s population, encouraging its people to focus on the cultural and spiritual values of their lives and helping create a society that will strive for high ideals.