William Holland

Holland as a young man

Holland 1931

December 1907-May 2008

William Lancelot Holland, former Secretary-General of the Institute of Pacific Relations and professor emeritus of the Department of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia, died after a brief illness on May 8, 2008, in Amherst, Massachusetts, USA, at age 100. He was one of the pioneers in the study of Asia and one of the primary architects of Pacific Affairs.

A native of New Zealand, Holland worked with the Institute of Pacific Relations from 1928 until 1960. The Institute of Pacific Relations (IPR) was established in 1925 as a private non-partisan forum for the promotion of mutual understanding among nations of Asia and the Pacific Rim through discussion, research, and education. The IPR’s programs of conferences, research projects, publications, and its quarterly journal Pacific Affairs contributed to the expansion of the field of Asian Studies. The Institute conducted its affairs through autonomous national councils. The International Secretariat was based in Hawaii until it moved to New York City in 1933.

Holland 1950

He held positions as Research Secretary; American IPR Executive Secretary and editor of its periodical, Far Eastern Survey; IPR Secretary-General and editor of its journal, Pacific Affairs. In the early 1950s the United States Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and Other Internal Security Laws (the McCarran Subcommittee) alleged that the IPR was open to communist influences. In addition, former Pacific Affairs editor Owen Lattimore was indicted for perjury in an appearance before the subcommittee. Although neither of the charges was substantiated, the surrounding negative publicity seriously impaired the operation of the Institute.

The IPR also lost its tax-exempt status as an educational body and waged a five-year battle to have it restored. The final judgment in 1959 affirmed that, contrary to the allegation of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue in 1955, the Institute had not engaged in the dissemination of controversial and partisan propaganda, and had not attempted to influence the policies or opinions of any government or government officials. Nonetheless, the legal battle plus the loss of much foundation funding left the Institute depleted of funds, and it dissolved in 1960.

Holland 1970

Holland accepted the offer of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, to become the head of the newly created Department of Asian Studies, and to bring Pacific Affairs with him. He joined the faculty in 1961 and through his leadership and discernment, helped build UBC into a leading center for research on Asia. He became professor emeritus in 1972, continuing to edit Pacific Affairs until 1978. In 1989 the University awarded him an honorary Doctor of Laws.

In 1934, he took a Masters degree at King’s College, Cambridge University, in economics, studying with John Maynard Keynes among others. In 1944, he became an American citizen, so that he could become acting director of the Office of War Information in Chungking, China.
photo of Bill

In 1990, following his wife’s death, he moved to Amherst, Massachusetts, to live with his only child, Patricia G. Holland, and her husband, Robert F. Winne. He continued to travel widely. He grew fond of the North Amherst Library, and in 1993 funded the building’s renovation.

Holland 1973

His recollections were published in 1995 in Tokyo as Remembering the Institute of Pacific Relations: The Memoirs of William L. Holland. They were edited and introduced by Professor Paul F. Hooper of the University of Hawai’i. Holland’s papers, including those of the IPR, are at Columbia University, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Hawai’i. In 2003 he established the William L. Holland Prize for the best article published each year in Pacific Affairs.

He is survived by his daughter and her husband, his granddaughter, Lucy Barber of Washington, D.C., his grandson and wife, Jonathan and Kristin Lieber of Portland, Ore., and many relatives in New Zealand and Australia.

His qualities of integrity, breadth, balance, consideration, and generosity assure William Lancelot Holland an affectionate place in the memories of us all — colleagues, friends, and all those who have been the fortunate beneficiaries of his ethical, intellectual and administrative legacies.

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