A member of APSA for nearly 20 years, Dr. Lee Ann Fujii was a well-respected associate professor at the University of Toronto researching political violence, ethnicity and race, African politics, and field methods when she passed away unexpectedly last year.
Now, a group of political scientists are coming together to establish a memorial fund that honors her life and contributions to the discipline.
Lee Ann Fujii and I became fast friends, colleagues, and disciplinary comrades soon after we met at the 2004 Institute for Qualitative and Multi-Method Research,” said Dr. Robin Turner, associate professor at Butler University (Turner 2018, 48). “Lee Ann was a brilliant scholar whose methodological work raises a host of questions with no easy answers” (Turner 2018, 49).
Those who had the pleasure of knowing Lee Ann described her as a dear educator and colleague dedicated to supporting the next generation. Many of Lee Ann’s mentees went on to have their own successful careers in political science, including Dr. Nick Smith, assistant professor at The City College of New York. “Lee Ann was an extraordinary mentor to many junior faculty and graduate students across the discipline, so finding a way to honor her legacy is important. Just as she was devoted to mentoring others, she was also committed to diversifying the discipline.”
As a tribute to Lee Ann, Robin, Nick, and others are undertaking an effort with APSA to expand the number of available travel grants for APSA Minority Fellows. The APSA Minority Fellowship Program, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, is a fellowship competition for individuals from underrepresented backgrounds applying to or in the early stages of doctoral programs in political science.
The APSA-Lee Ann Fujii Minority Fellowship Program Travel Grants are meant to support Fellows’ participation in APSA’s meetings so that they can engage in research, professional development, mentoring and collaboration. Travel grants play a critical role in ensuring that APSA’s Annual Meetings continue to be enriched by scholars regardless of their financial abilities.
Through donor support, APSA-Lee Ann Fujii Minority Fellowship Program Travel Grants will enable more underrepresented, early-career scholars to participate in valuable training, educational, and networking activities alongside thousands of peers and established professionals— an opportunity that may otherwise not be available to them because of the constraints and demands on the financial resources of emerging scholars.
“Seeing how many of Lee Ann’s friends, colleagues, and family members have contributed to this effort shows the profound impact she has had on others and our commitment to perpetuate Lee Ann’s work,”– Dr. Nick Smith, The City College of New York
Already, a large number of gifts have poured in from interested donors since the effort began to fund APSA-Lee Ann Fujii Minority Fellowship Program Travel Grants over the next five years and starting with the 2019 APSA Annual Meeting in Washington, DC. “Seeing how many of Lee Ann’s friends, colleagues, and family members have contributed to this effort shows the profound impact she has had on others and our commitment to perpetuate Lee Ann’s work,” said Nick.
Members of Lee Ann’s family, including her brothers, Jeff and Carey Fujii, and sister-in-law Josephine (Carey’s wife), said that the family is both proud and in awe of Lee Ann’s many accomplishments. They are astonished at how impactful she was, and continues to be, in the profession. To Carey, Lee Ann was simply his “little sister” and the siblings had little if any view of her professional life. Carey recalled fond memories of their childhood and shared this personal story with APSA:
“Lee Ann was competitive growing up and nowhere was this more evident than family game night when we played Scrabble. I have used all seven tiles maybe a dozen times in my whole Scrabble-playing career but for Lee Ann, it happened at least once every time we played. Being the ever-supportive older brother, I would wait until Lee Ann was counting her score, then ‘bump’ the board such that the tiles got out of place, then calmly declare the game a draw, with no winner. This would trigger now uncontrollable laughter in Lee Ann for at least 5 minutes after which she would ask, ‘Play again?’”
- Learn more about the 2019 Lee Ann Fujii MFP Travel Grant here.
- See also, Remembering: Lee Ann Fujii, University of Toronto Political Science Professor.
Turner, Robin L. 2018. “Remembering Lee Ann in South Africa: Meta-Data and Reflexive Research Practice.” Qualitative and Multi-Method Research 16 (1): 48-50. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.2562288.