LaiYee Leong




Ph.D., Yale University

Dr. LaiYee Leong is a Distinguished Fellow at the SMU Center for Presidential History (CPH) and a Senior Fellow at the John G. Tower Center for Public Policy and International Affairs. She is also Lecturer in the Political Science Department. Dr. Leong received her B.A. in English with distinction in the major (magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) and her Ph.D. in Political Science from Yale University.

Dr. Leong is the lead scholar of the CPH’s oral history projects “Post-9/11 US Policy in East and Southeast Asia” and “Transatlantic Diplomacy After 9/11: The US and Norway.” These projects explore the impact of the 9/11 attacks on US foreign policy and consequences on relations with other states.  Comprising extensive video-recorded interviews with senior officials from the Bush administration, foreign leaders, diplomats, and expert observers, the projects offer a unique archive of digital history materials accessible to scholars and the public. Dr. Leong produced "Cross Currents" the inaugural season of the CPH podcast series Firsthand History, which draws on one of the oral history projects.

At CPH, Dr. Leong directs programs for the Article II Society, the center’s donor society. She also oversees CPH’s partnership with a public Dallas high school magnet, facilitating mentorship and research opportunities for its students.

Courses that Dr. Leong teaches include Introduction to Comparative Politics, US Foreign Policy, Islam and Politics, and Movements and Protests. Dr. Leong regularly serves as a faculty sponsor of undergraduate internships and Engaged Learning fellowships. She is also a lead co-convenor of a Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute faculty research cluster that explores the potential for integrating more Asian American perspectives into the curriculum, among other topics.

In 2023-24, Dr. Leong will serve as one of Dedman College’s Diversity Officers. She is the immediate past Chair of AAPASA, the affinity group for Asian and Asian-American staff and faculty at SMU. She is also a long-time Faculty Advisor to the Asian Council, the umbrella organization of Asian and Asian-American student groups at SMU. Dr. Leong contributed to SMU’s cultural intelligence initiative (CIQ) at its inception.

Dr. Leong has native fluency in Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese, speaks Indonesian and Malay, and reads Norwegian.  

Lai Yee Leong