Each year, San Francisco State University (SFSU) honors one member from its vast pool of alumni for exceptional achievements made in one or many specialized fields. Past recipients of the award include filmmaker and environmentalist Randy Hayes, famous actress Annette Bening, former Mayor of San Francisco Willie Brown, and physician and astronaut Yvonne Cagle. This year, the SFSU Alumnus of the Year Award went to Tamkang University President, Dr. Flora Chia-I Chang.
Before receiving the award, President Chang, accompanied by various members of TKU faculty, attended a signing ceremony and took part in informal discussions with SF State faculty and staff. The visiting TKU delegation included the Vice President for International Affairs, Dr. Wan-chin Tai, the Dean of the Office of Student Affairs, Dr. Ho Chii-dong, the Dean of the College of Science, Dr. Wang Bo-Cheng, the Dean of the College of Education, Dr. Hsun-fang Kao, and the secretary of the TKU International Office, Martha Kuo.
After arriving at SFSU, the delegation first attended an Agreement Signing Ceremony (May 20), in which President Chang and SFSU President, Dr. Robert A. Corrigan, formally extended the ongoing academic partnership between TKU and SFSU. A round of informal discussions was then hosted by Dr. Yenbo Wu, the SFSU Associate Vice President, Division of International Education. Other SFSU faculty in attendance included Dr. Wenshen Pong (Director, School of Engineering), Dr. Jacob Perea (Dean of the College of Education), Dr. Gerald Eisman (Director of the Institute for Civic and Community Engagement), Dr. Jerry Combs (International Articulation Officer), and Dr. David Wick (Coordinator of Study Abroad Services). Subsequently, at SFSU’s 110th Commencement (May 21), President Chang was officially honored as the 2011 SFSU Alumna of the Year in front of 20,000 plus spectators at Cox Stadium, San Francisco.
By naming President Chang Alumna of the Year, SFSU recognized President Chang’s pioneering role in Taiwanese higher education. After taking the helm as TKU President in 2004, President Chang has applied her expertise in educational leadership to set up mechanisms for Total Quality Management (TQM) and programs for long distance education. The all-English learning environment at the TKU Lanyang Campus is unique among universities in Taiwan; and the courses ‘Communications Technology’ and ‘Multi-cultural Awareness’ are pre-requisites that help TKU students prepare for their future careers. Another notable feature of President Chang’s governance is the policy of “internationalization”, which has seen Tamkang forge partnerships and undertake academic exchange with universities around the world. At present, Tamkang enjoys sister school relations with 110 universities in 28 countries.
In her acceptance speech at Commencement, President Chang acknowledged SF State’s role in helping to shape her “views on educational administration”. She concluded her speech with an inspirational quote from Winston Churchill: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts”.