Lawrence University is mourning the passing of Chong-do Hah, a beloved professor of government who taught generations of Lawrentians during a brilliant 42-year career.

He passed away June 24 at the age of 96.

Born in Koje, Korea, Hah moved to the United States in 1952. He earned a bachelor’s degree at Indiana University, a master’s degree at the University of Virginia, and a Ph.D. from Indiana University before joining the Lawrence faculty in 1961. He served on the faculty until retiring in 2003 (and taught some classes for a number of years following retirement).

Hah was widely respected for his intellectual rigor and global expertise, and he remained connected as a mentor to many of his students long after they graduated from Lawrence.

“As leader of the Government Department, Professor Hah stood for high standards and innovative thought,” said Claudena Skran, Edwin & Ruth West Professor of Economics and Social Science and professor of government. “He mentored many students who later pursued academic careers.” 

Chong-do Hah teaches a class in 1978.
Chong-do Hah teaches a class at Lawrence. (Lawrence University Archives)

Jon Greenwald, a retired senior U.S. diplomat who spent the 1998-99 academic year teaching at Lawrence as the Scarff Distinguished Visiting Professor of Diplomacy and Foreign Policy, called Hah a great scholar and mentor. Hah was among the first people he met upon arriving at Lawrence.

“I had served 30 years in the State Department and U.S. Foreign Service but never taught,” Greenwald said. “He took me under his wing, mentored, guided, and encouraged me, becoming in the process for me the embodiment of the school that I fell in love with that year and with which I have retained a close relationship for more than a quarter century: a warm and welcoming place, devoted to the liberal arts and human values, with broad curiosity about the world but above all grounded in teaching its students. I'm grateful that he made me one of his students."

Skran worked alongside Hah in the Department of Government for more than a decade. Hah chaired the department for much of that time.

“One of the first teacher/scholars at Lawrence to recognize the importance of Asian studies, Professor Hah taught many students to better understand Chinese politics and society,” Skran said.

Hah was an advocate for Lawrence’s Povolny Lecture Series in International Studies and the Scarff professorship, both of which bring visiting scholars to campus.

“In so many ways, Professor Hah set the standard of what a Lawrence faculty member could and should be,” Skran said.

A 1990 faculty awards nomination letter speaks to how beloved Hah was at Lawrence: “In an era when some undergraduates view rigorous method and social science research skeptically, Chong-do transmits with great skill the virtues of methodological rigor to his students. His courses are immensely popular because they demand and secure more from most students than they think they can produce.”

A celebration of Hah’s life is being planned for this fall. In lieu of flowers, the family asks to consider making a donation in his memory to the Mojmir Povolny and Chong-do Hah Library Fund at Lawrence.

See the obituary for Chong-do Hah