News & Events

Dr. Liliane Willens to serve as first Distinguished Lecturer of 2012-2013

The University of Maine at Presque Isle is pleased to announce that it will begin its 2012-2013 University Distinguished Lecturer Series with a talk by scholar, memoirist, and humanitarian Dr. Liliane Willens.

Dr. Willens will deliver her talk Stateless in Shanghai: A First-Hand Account of Life in China through WWII, Chinese Civil War, and Communist Takeover on Tuesday, Oct. 2, at 7 p.m. in the Campus Center. Willens’ lecture is free and the public is invited to be a part of this special evening.

Liliane Willens was born of Russian parentage in the former French Concession of Shanghai. She, her parents, and sisters – all stateless – experienced World War II under the Japanese military occupation, and, later, the aftermath of the Chinese Civil War between the Nationalist government and the communists.

Because of difficulties in obtaining a visa to the U.S. under a very restrictive quota system, Willens remained in Shanghai for two years after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China.

When she was able to immigrate to the U.S., she studied at Boston University where she received a Ph.D. in French Language and Literature and taught these subjects at Boston College and MIT. Upon moving to Washington, D.C., Dr. Willens focused on humanitarian work with the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Peace Corps.

Since her retirement, she has given lectures on China and on her book Stateless in Shanghai which she will sign after her talk.Stateless in Shanghai was published in 2010 by China Economic Review Publishing in Hong Kong for Earnshaw Books. It is now in its fourth printing. The book recounts the experiences Willens and her family faced living in China during the 1940’s and early 1950’s.

The University’s Distinguished Lecture Series was established in 1999. Each year, the UDLS Committee sponsors five to six speakers who come from Maine and beyond, representing a range of disciplines and viewpoints. While the emphasis tends to be on featuring visiting academics, it is not exclusively so. The speakers typically spend two days at the University meeting with classes and presenting a community lecture.

All are invited to a reception and booksigning with Willens in the Campus Center immediately following her talk. Light refreshments will be served. For more information, contact the University’s Community and Media Relations Office at 768-9452.