Paul Kwan-Tsien Sih (1909-1978)

Dr. Sih, a native of Qingfu, Kiangsu province, spent his early years in Shanghai, receiving his B.A. from prestigious Soochow University in Shanghai. During the 1930s and 1940s, he served as a diplomat and official in the Chinese Nationalist Government, and after World War II he was China's envoy to the Vatican. In October 1949, Dr. Sih and his family arrived in the United States, and he began teaching at Seton Hall University in New Jersey. A decade later, in 1959, at the invitation of St. John's, Dr. Sih initiated Asian studies at the university.

Dr. Sih was a man with enthusiasm and outstanding abilities, and also a man with strong convictions. He was one of the very few who promoted the study of Sun Yat-sen, the Kuomintang and Taiwan. Long before the "Taiwan Miracle" and the consequent flourishing of Taiwan studies, Dr. Sih promoted research on current developments in Taiwan. Taiwan in Modern Times, which he edited and which St. John's University Press published in 1973, was a forerunner in what later became a very important field for the study not only of modern China but also of economic, social and political development. He also organized a series of symposia, conferences and lectures in 1969 and 1970 as part of the centennial celebration of St. John's University.

Dr. Sih's crowning accomplishment at St. John's was the construction of Sun Yat-sen Hall. He raised funds, supervised construction, and, on September 8, 1973, led the formal dedication of the new building. It was a major event in many ways, since it not only signified the coming of age of Asian Studies at St. John's, but also because Sun Yat-sen Hall was the first example of Chinese Palace Style architecture to be built on an American university campus.

In 1976 Dr. Shi was diagnosed with cancer. The cancer had already spread too far for treatment to do anything but prolong the inevitable. He passed away on November 22, 1978.

Dr. Sih was survived by his wife, Theresa Sih, and three children. Mrs. Sih died of a heart attack in February 1997.

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