English professor receives inaugural Meredith Endowed Professorship
University of the Pacific Professor Xiaojing Zhou, who stresses the importance of a strong teacher-student dynamic, is the inaugural recipient of the Lawrence Meredith Endowed Professorship in the Humanities.
Zhou, professor and chair in the Department of English, was selected from a strong group of College of the Pacific faculty nominees. The five-year endowed professorship honors Meredith, who joined Pacific in 1966 and taught for 33 years.
“This is an incredible opportunity to have an impact on students. From all that I know about Professor Emeritus Larry Meredith, his students are such an important part of his dedication to excellence,” said Zhou, who has taught at Pacific since 2002 and received the 2015 Distinguished Faculty Award (video).
“Perhaps Dr. Zhou’s profound quality with which I concur is the perpetual support of students and the personal interest she takes in their lives, both inside and outside the classroom,” said Meredith. “She promotes meticulous research and the development of the student scholar. Her goal of opening a compassionate new world for students to explore is primary for all of us fortunate enough to be labeled teachers.”
A total of 54 Pacific alumni—many of them former students of Meredith—gave donations collectively topping $500,000, the threshold for the endowed professorship, which was established in 2020.
Seattle Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll ’73, ’78 and his wife Glena ’77, longtime friends of Larry and Pat Meredith, were the lead donors. Both were his students at Pacific.
“He is a consummate professor, and when you’re with him, you’re in the presence of a special energy,” Pete Carroll said in a 2020 story.
The endowed professorship was established to provide support for research and scholarly work by a College of the Pacific faculty member who has strong contributions in teaching, scholarship and service in the humanities.
“Fellow faculty value her many contributions across the university as well as her ongoing encouragement of others, her commitment to social justice, and her unwavering mentorship and support,” College of the Pacific Dean Rena Fraden wrote about Zhou.
“I know that I speak for all of my colleagues in the English Department when I say that no one is more deserving of the Meredith Endowed Professorship,” Professor of English Camille Norton said. “Professor Zhou is an eminent scholar in both English and in Mandarin, with an established reputation as a pioneer of Asian-American Literary Studies, Ethnic Studies, and Environmental Literary Studies.
“For nearly 20 years, she brought important BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) poets to campus and forged important friendships between Pacific and contemporary writers. She directed Ethnic Studies for many years and has served as an exemplary Chair of English as well as a tireless university advocate. We are enormously proud of her achievement.”
Professor Zhou received unanimous support from her Department of English faculty colleagues for this professorship. Professor Cynthia Dodds compiled the department’s overall nomination package, which includes words of praise from many former students.
“Dr. Zhou has unmatched compassion. Something I have always cherished about the University of the Pacific is its commitment to the experience of its students and their overall well-being,” said Victoria Rodriguez, former ethnic studies student who is enrolled at the McGeorge School of Law. “Dr. Zhou is a quintessential part in upholding these values. She is someone who will go to the ends of the Earth for her students in any capacity, without exception.”
Zhou’s intended approach meshes with Meredith’s hopes for the professorship.
“Dr. Zhou more than embodies the qualities that we visualized for the personal tribute. Her influential presence has reached across the campus, the community and internationally,” Meredith said. “Dr. Zhou has shown unwavering dedication to environmental, racial and social issues. She has challenged inequalities and upheld diversity and inclusion of all.”
She is in the early stages of developing plans for her studies and research, and hopes to collaborate with other professors and students on multi-disciplinary research, including work with the social and natural sciences.
“I am very overwhelmed by the generosity of so many people,” Zhou said. “I am inspired to live up to their expectations that are obvious from their love and support for Professor Emeritus Larry Meredith. This experience, to me, is the best manifestation of citizenship. It will be a fine addition to my work, which I cherish. I absolutely cherish teaching our students.”