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Prof. Qian Su received the prestigious 2022 Thomas Graves Award for Sustained Excellence in Teaching

Prof. Xin Li (left) and Prof. Qian Su (right)

Prof. Qian Su’s contributions to the teaching and learning of Chinese over the past fifteen years have been indispensable to the William & Mary Chinese Studies program’s continuing growth and success. She has helped launch the careers of many students of Chinese who now work around the world in academia, government service, and the international business sector.

Chinese is a notoriously difficult language for adult learners; as a result, attrition rates in lower-level courses are often quite high. To retain students, language programs must provide high-quality, rigorous instruction at the beginning and intermediate levels and show students that they are making real progress. Under Professor Su’s superb guidance, for the past four academic years, her intermediate courses have retained around 90% of their enrollments between the fall and spring semesters, and a very large number of her students continue into upper-level courses in third-year and fourth-year Chinese.

Every semester, evaluations of Professor Su from students are nothing less than effusive. Students comments include: “I am so glad that I had the privilege to take two of her classes this year”; “one of Prof. Su’s greatest strengths is that she balances so well her high expectations for the students and their potential to learn”; “she perfectly helped many high school students transition into college course expectations”; and “having had Prof. Su in 101 and having her now [in 201], I can see that she knows very well how much she can push her students to excel.”

Professor Su’s commitment to teaching is further shown in her willingness to lead W&M’s summer study abroad program in Beijing four times—and her commitment to lead it again as soon as travel restrictions ease. This study-abroad program, a crucial component of the Chinese Studies major, lasts seven and a half weeks, which makes it the longest faculty-led summer program offered at William & Mary. It is also one of the most academically demanding: students complete eight credits of language instruction and take a three-credit, site-based culture course that introduces them to Beijing.

Currently Prof. Su also serves as president of the Chinese Language Teachers Association of Virginia (2021–23). In this role she will work to improve K-12 instruction across the Commonwealth—and W&M and other colleges and universities will no doubt reap the rewards of her work in the form of students who arrive with excellent training.