About us



History of the Chinese Language Program

Penn’s Chinese Language Program (CLP) began under Derk Bodde in 1938, beginning of WW II. In 1959, Bodde’s student Allyn Rickett joined the Department to teach the Chinese language and history till his retirement in 1985. In 1975, A. Ronald Walton, an authority on less commonly taught languages, joined the department to lead the Chinese program. Walton left for the University of Maryland in 1983. In 1984, Jerome Packard came to Penn to teach Chinese language and linguistics; he left in 1987. Then Perry Link introduced Eugene (Hongjun) Liu to Allyn Rickett. Liu led Penn Chinese Language Program from 1987 to 2000. The Chinese Language Program was directed by Mien-hwa Chiang from 2000 to 2021. The current director is Ye Tian.

In the Chinese Language Program, each instructional level has a coordinator. Language Liaison for EALC Prof. Linda Chance and Prof. Hsiao-wen Cheng, offer additional support. Since 2000, the CLP has expanded from 5 instructors and approximately 200 students to 10 full-time lecturers and 300-350 students each semester. It now includes such innovative courses as Medical Chinese, Beginning Business Chinese, and Advanced Conversational Chinese.

Derk Bodde

Allyn Rickett

Jerome Packard

A. Ronald Walton

Eugene Liu

Mien-hwa Chiang









The mission of the Chinese Language Program

The mission of the Chinese Language Program is to provide Chinese learning opportunities for members of the Penn community so that each learner becomes proficient in the Chinese language,  more knowledgeable on Chinese culture, and personally more accepting in the current multilingual and globalized environment.

The chief goal of the beginning- and intermediate-level courses is to develop learners’ functional skills so that learners are able to communicate with native speakers and comprehend written texts with the help of dictionaries. The chief goal of the advanced language courses is to educate cross-language, cross-cultural, and cross-disciplinary leaders for the business and government sectors, as well as to build modern Chinese and classical Chinese foundations for graduate and professional schools.


Department Office

847 Williams Hall, 255 S.36th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104

Phone: 215-898-7466; Fax: 215-573-9617

Last updated on 8/23/2022 by Xiaomeng Zhang