Pauline Yu is President Emerita of the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), a non-profit federation of 79 scholarly organizations which she led for sixteen years. ACLS has been the preeminent representative of American scholarship in the humanities and interpretive social sciences since 1919 and has provided competitive fellowships and grants to individual scholars in those fields since 1926. Yu was previously dean of humanities at the University of California, Los Angeles for ten years, founding chair of the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures at the University of California, Irvine, and professor at Columbia University and the University of Minnesota. She received her B.A. in History and Literature from Harvard University, her M.A. and Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Stanford University, and holds five honorary degrees. In 2021, she received the award for Distinguished Service to the Profession from the Association of Departments of Foreign Languages of the Modern Language Association.
Yu has been elected to membership in two honorary societies, the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She serves on the Academy’s board of directors and is also a trustee of the Institute for Advanced Study. In addition, she is a member of the board of several philanthropic organizations, including The Henry Luce Foundation and The Teagle Foundation. She is the author or editor of five books and has published widely on topics in Chinese poetry, comparative literature, and the humanities.