After being offered three of the most prestigious fellowships in the world, history professor Qin Shao has accepted a fellowship from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University for her sabbatical in 2007-2008.
Shao was offered fellowships for her work on China from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the School for Advanced Research on the Human Experience in Sante Fe, N.M.
Shao found out about the fellowships starting in early February when James Brooks, President of the School for Advanced Research, called to offer her the fellowship. Brooks told her the deadline to accept the fellowship was March 1.
Shao said she was surprised that the School for Advanced Research called so early, as she did not expect to start hearing about her applications until March.
Although she appreciated the offer from the School for Advanced Research, Shao said she did not want to decide by March 1 in case she received another offer. Shao called the Woodrow Wilson School, who told her she was at the top of its list and that it had basically already selected her, but needed a final meeting to decide on March 5.
“Chances were it was a sure thing,” Shao said. “But you never know because it’s so competitive.”
Shao then contacted the School for Advanced Research, who gave her an extension on the deadline.
Before the Woodrow Wilson School made an offer, the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard called to offer Shao a fellowship. Shao called the School for Advanced Research to decline its offer. Although Shao said she felt bad declining, the School invited her to apply again and was happy to know it was competing with Harvard and the Woodrow Wilson School.
Shao then decided to go to Harvard instead of the Woodrow Wilson School; she called the Woodrow Wilson School to decline its offer on Friday, March 30.
Shao said the overall factor that affected her decision was research conditions. Shao said the Woodrow Wilson School is good for her specific research because it has a focus on contemporary public policy.
However, “Harvard has more people who work in the China field,” she said.
Shao also choose Harvard for its “several libraries and extensive selection on China.”
Shao said she is humbled by the three offers she received.
“In a time when there is very little funding for the social sciences and humanities, you are very lucky to get one offer, and I got three,” she said.
“It is all the more precious for someone in a small college to receive such awards,” Shao said. “I am honored to be recognized by my peers and the experts in the field for my work.”
Shao said the fellowships not only recognize her current project, but recognize the body of her work that she has contributed to the field, including her publications in the United States, Europe and China.
Shao said internal and external experts from each institution reviewed her work before offering her the fellowship.
In addition to publishing all over the world, Shao was profiled in April 2005 in Academic Monthly, a leading journal in China that is published in Shanghai. The article outlined her academic career in China and the United States. Shao was the first woman and the first overseas Chinese person to be profiled in the journal.
Matt Golden, director of Communications and Media Relations, said Shao’s accomplishments give a good name to the College.
“Professor Shao’s accomplishments are a source of great pride for the College,” he said. “These recognitions let prospective students know that when they come to (the College) they will learn from faculty members who are revered by their peers and respected both nationally and internationally.”
“It’s almost painful to say no to a fellowship,” Shao said. “It feels wonderful to be wanted and to be invited; it feels terrible to say no.”