New director for China Center brings enthusiasm

by David Anderson

In hopes to foster stronger links with students and other Chinese associations, the China Center hired Hong Yang as its new director. And though Yang’s experience earned him a candidacy to fill the spot, it was his passion that won center officials over.
“That enthusiasm and that dynamic way of thinking will really help him here” said China Center coordinator Joan Brzezinski. “He really has high energy.”
The China Center search committee announced earlier this month that it selected Yang as the center’s new director. Yang will assume his position May 31.
The 21-year-old China Center facilitates exchanges with mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. It also maintains contacts with University alumni in China and serves as a resource about Chinese culture.
Yang, who is originally from Leshan in the Sichuan province of China, studied at Chendu University of Science and Technology, where he received a bachelor’s degree in science in 1982.
Four years later, Yang moved to the United States with his family. He earned a doctoral degree in chemistry at the University of New York at Stony Brook.
Yang currently teaches chemistry at North Carolina State University.
The China Center’s last director, David Pui, stepped down in December to focus on research and teaching for the Department of Mechanical Engineering.
The job opening attracted 75 candidates from the United States and abroad.
The committee narrowed down the number of candidates to five. Two of the five withdrew after finding jobs at other universities.
Mario Bognanno, an industrial relations professor and chairman of the search committee, said Yang’s design for a China center at the North Carolina university was the dominant factor in winning the committee’s favor.
“Certainly he had some experience in the field we’re looking for,” said H.H. Cheng, a professor in soil, water and climate. “We also find him as a person very enthusiastic and with a lot on innovative ideas.”
Brzezinski, the center’s acting director, said Yang will focus on student exchanges with China. He will also try to build better links with other Chinese associations in Minnesota, she said.
With about 1,300 students, scholars and faculty members of Chinese origin, the University hosts the largest Chinese population of any university in North America.
In other words, Yang inherits considerable responsibilities.
“With Dr. Yang’s arrival, we expect the China Center to become more and more active … in putting our Chinese activities on the map in the North American landscape,” Bognanno said.

David Anderson covers professional schools and international perspectives and welcomes comments at [email protected].