Erika Lee (A’91) to deliver Class of 2022 commencement address

Erika Lee is pictured at the Library of Congress National Book Festival on Sept. 5, 2015. Via Wikimedia Commons

Erika Lee (A’91), an award-winning scholar of immigration and Asian American history, will deliver the commencement address to the Class of 2022 on May 22. Tufts announced on April 1 that Lee would deliver the address and receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree, along with five other distinguished individuals.

“It is such an honor to be able to come back to campus as the 2022 commencement speaker!” Lee wrote in an email to the Daily. “I credit my experiences at Tufts – both inside and outside of the classroom – for making me the person I am today: a professor, writer, advocate, and engaged citizen.”

Lee is the regents professor of history and Asian American studies at the University of Minnesota, where she also directs the Immigration History Research Center. Lee received her Ph.D. in history from the University of California, Berkeley after receiving her bachelor’s degree from Tufts. 

“Dr. Lee is one of our nation’s leading historians of immigration and the Asian American experience, and I look forward to welcoming her to campus to share her important message for our graduating students,” University President Anthony Monaco wrote in an April 1 email to the Tufts community.

Lee’s main areas of study include xenophobia, immigration and racism in the United States. Lee has authored four books on Asian American history. Her 2019 book “America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States,” won an American Book Award and the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature.

Lee is president-elect of the Organization of American Historians and a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. She was named an Andrew Carnegie Fellow in 2018 and testified before the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary in 2021 during its hearings on violence against Asian Americans.

The five other individuals who will receive honorary doctorates on May 22 are Callie Crossley, a journalist who covers issues impacting communities of color; Pablo Eduardo (BFA’94), a renowned sculptor; Jane Frommer (J’76), a trailblazing nanoscientist; Lonnie King, a veterinarian and former administrator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and Asad M. Madni, an award-winning engineer and former COO and president of BEI Technologies.

Anand Mahindra, chairman of The Mahindra Group, will address Fletcher students at Tufts University’s Class Day on May 21.

Commencement for the Class of 2022 will take place at 9 a.m. on the Academic Quad. An in-person ceremony for the undergraduate Class of 2020, with a separate commencement speaker and honorary degree recipients, will take place on May 27. According to Monaco’s email, the university will announce the Class of 2020 the commencement speaker and doctorate recipients early this week.

Lee will be the first speaker since 2019 to deliver a commencement address in person. 

“I know from firsthand experience how challenging the last few years have been for college students,” Lee wrote. “So I know that this is just going to be a huge moment of celebration.”


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