Yan Huiqing was the first Chinese student to earn a degree from UVA.

The University of Virginia has renamed a dormitory to honour Yan Huiqing, the first Chinese student to graduate from the university.

Originally named Lewis House, the dormitory building will be now called Yen House in honour of Yan Yuiqing, who also went by the name W.W. Yen.

Lewis House was named for Ivey Foreman Lewis in 1984, a proponent of the now discredited scientific theory of eugenics. Eugenicists had pushed for selective breeding in humans, leading to the forced sterilisation of those with mental disorders.

Yen was a member of the Class of 1900 and holds a second UVA distinction. As well as being the first Chinese student to earn a degree from UVA, he is also the first international student to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree from the university.

The noted graduate went on to become China’s first ambassador to the Soviet Union and a delegate to the League of Nations, as well as serving as China’s premier for five years and serving as acting president during his last partnership in 1926.

Yen also held an influential role in the founding of Tsinghua University in Beijing.

He died in 1950 at the age of 73.

A resolution passed by the UVA’s Board of Visitors called Yen a “highly accomplished diplomat.”

“Mr. Yen serves as a distinguished example of a true global scholar committed to cross-cultural exchange, peace, and goodwill,” reads the resolution.

The W.W. Yen China Fund was established in 2016 and supports students, faculty and visiting scholars from Chinese communities around the world who research, teach or learn about Chinese history, society or culture.

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