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Connecticut College remembers Charles Chu April 18

NEW LONDON, Conn. - The Connecticut College community will gather at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 18 to celebrate the life and art of Charles Chu, professor emeritus of Chinese. The memorial in Harkness Chapel will be followed by a reception in the Charles Chu Asian Art Reading Room at Shain Library.

Chu, a master calligrapher and painter, came to Connecticut College in 1965 to establish and direct the Chinese program. He also was the founding curator of the college's Chu-Griffis Asian Art Collection. Chu retired in 1984 but remained a beloved - and active - member of the college community. He died last fall at the age of 90.

Alumni, faculty, students, staff and family will participate in the program of poetry, music and reminiscences. Speakers will include Jonathan Spence, the Sterling Professor of History at Yale University and one of the foremost scholars of Chinese civilization from the 16th century to the present, and John Niblack, a Connecticut College trustee.

Niblack, a personal friend of Chu's, studied the Chinese language with him. He and Chu traveled to China together and shared a love of traditional Chinese ink paintings.

"Over the years, Charles and I exchanged almost 300 letters in Chinese via fax. I have them all," Niblack said. "Our interaction grew from teacher and student, to, as he put it in our letters, big brother and little brother."

Two associated exhibits of Chu's work, both curated by Qiang Ning, the Chu-Niblack associate professor of art history and the current curator of the Chu-Griffis collection, are currently on display in the Chu Room and at the Lyman Allyn Art Musuem.

In addition to the College's memorial, a service for Chu's wife, Bettie Simmons Chu, will be held Friday, April 17 at 6 p.m. at All Souls Unitarian Church, 19 Jay Street, New London. She died Feb. 28.

For a retrospective on Chu's life, including video of him giving a tour of art in the Chu Room, go to or Chu's Web site,

For more information, contact Laurie McGrath 860-439-2450 or

About Connecticut College

Situated on the coast of southern New England, Connecticut College is a highly selective private liberal arts college with 1900 students from all across the country and throughout the world. On the college's 750-acre arboretum campus overlooking Long Island Sound, students and faculty create a vibrant social, cultural and intellectual community enriched by diverse perspectives. The college, founded in 1911, is known for its unique combination of interdisciplinary studies, international programs, funded internships, student-faculty research and service learning.

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April 8, 2009