UH Board of Regents present Shen Xiaomei with honorary degree

Renowned actor-teacher of Jingju, a traditional form of Chinese theater

University of Hawaiʻi
Carolyn Tanaka, (808) 956-9803
Mia Noguchi, (808) 956-9095
External Affairs & University Relations
Posted: Oct 21, 2005

HILO, Hawaiʻi — At its monthly meeting held today at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo campus, the UH Board of Regents (BOR) presented an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters to Madam Shen Xiaomei, who, for more than 25 years, has made crucial and invaluable contributions to the teaching and performance of Chinese theater at the University of Hawaiʻi.

Madam Shen is an actor and teacher of international renown and has often been regarded as an international crusader for the art of Jingju, China‘s national form of traditional theater. Through her numerous professional accomplishments and her contributions to student artists and the wider community in China, Hawaiʻi, East Asia, North America and Europe, Madam Shen has made it possible for generations of UH students to learn the art of Jingju. Her work has also allowed for tens of thousands of theatergoers throughout the state to experience and appreciate authentic Jingju performances, an opportunity that otherwise would not have existed.

Shen‘s association with the University of Hawaiʻi began in 1979, when she consented to train Elizabeth Wichmann, then a UH-Manoa PhD candidate conducting field research in China. For Shen, it was a bold and daring move at a time when contact with Americans was still considered politically risky and could have jeopardized her career. But Shen‘s belief that in order for an art to be considered international, it must be seriously learned and respectefully performed by artists from countries and cultures other than its own caused her to undertake the risk with great dedciation.

Madam Shen and Dr. Wichmann-Walczak have planned and implemented six year-long Jingju Resident Training Program at UHM, making Jingju a centerpiece of UHM‘s internationally renowned Asian Theatre Program.

In her own opinion, Shen‘s greatest lifetime acheivements have been in training young, non-Chinese artists to perform Jingju. Shen is expected to accept the degree in person at an event held on the Mānoa campus in Fall 2005.

About the University of Hawaiʻi
Established in 1907 and fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, the University of Hawaiʻi is the state‘s sole public system of higher education. The UH System provides an array of undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees and community programs on 10 campuses and through educational, training, and research centers across the state. UH enrolls more than 50,000 students from Hawaiʻi, the U.S. mainland, and around the world. For more information, visit www.hawaii.edu.