Michael Lestz is the Chairman of the Department of History and Director of the O’Neill Asia Cum Laude Endowment founded through a bequest by Michael and Trish O’Neill in 2005. He also chairs the Charlotte Riggs Scholarship Committee and is Fellow for the Class of 1963 Scholarship Program. He is the faculty representative to Trinity College’s National Alumni Association.
The O’Neill Endowment fosters credit-bearing study by Trinity undergraduates and led by the College’s faculty throughout Asia. In the last five years, O’Neill funds have sponsored study projects designed by Professor Lestz and other Trinity faculty in China, Cambodia, Tibet, and Nepal. In 2011, Megacities of the Yangtze, a three credit summer program co-sponsored by the O’Neill Endowment, the Charlotte Riggs Scholarship Fund, and the Center for Urban and Global Studies, will take students from Chengdu to Shanghai. This initiative, organized by Lestz and Dean Xiangming Chen of CUGS, combines courses in history, urban sociology, and environmental science and engages students in a five week study of the great urban centers of the Yangtze basin. It is now in its third iteration.
In recent years Lestz’s research has focused on Republican China and the city of Chongqing. He is the co-author of The Search for Modern China: A Document Collection (Norton, 1999) and principal author of a Chinese to English translation of Zhou Daguan’s 13th century portrait of Angkorean Cambodia Zhenla fengtuji [A record of the customs of Zhenla].