de Bary, Wm. Theodore [key], 1919–2017, American scholar of Asian cultures, b. Bronx, N.Y., as William Theodore De Bary (he formally changed to Wm. to distinguish himself from his like-named father), grad. Columbia (B.A. 1941, Ph.D. 1953). He served as a naval intelligence officer in the Pacific during World War II, and was a Fulbright scholar in Beijing when Communist troops entered the city in 1949. While a graduate student in Asian studies, he headed a committee to expand the core curriculum at Columbia College to include the study of Asian as well as Western civilization. A professor at Columbia from 1953, he became university executive vice president and provost (1971–78) and John Mitchell Mason Professor of the University (1979–90); he continued to teach until 2017. De Bary also founded (1976) and headed Columbia's Heyman Center for the Humanities. De Bary wrote, translated, and edited more than 50 books on East Asian literature, history, and culture, with a particular emphasis on Neo-Confucian studies. His books include Sources of Chinese Tradition (1960; 2d ed., 2 vol., 1999–2000), Waiting for the Dawn (1993), Nobility and Civility (2004), and The Great Civilizations Conversation (2013). De Bary was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2013.
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