Alumnus appointed first Korean chancellor

By Lauren Mangurten

Sung-Mo “Steve” Kang was appointed chancellor of the University of California at Merced, making him the first Korean chancellor of a four-year university in the United States.

Kang was dean of engineering at the University of California at Santa Cruz. But before that, he was a department head and professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Kang is excited to begin his term in March at Merced in the San Joaquin Valley, which opened on Sept. 5, 2005. Kang said he looks forward to building the university’s research center.

“There are many qualified people for a position like this,” Kang said. “I feel very, very fortunate to be trusted to fill this position.”

Kang has a degree in electrical engineering from Fairleigh Dickinson in Teaneck, N.J., a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and a doctorate in electrical engineering from University of California at Berkeley.

Kang said his experience as dean of engineering at Santa Cruz prepared him for his position as chancellor at Merced. He worked with a small program at Santa Cruz, which he built up to its current, larger size. Kang said he will have to do the same on a larger scale at Merced.

“Steve did a wonderful job of building engineering at (Santa Cruz) and fostering relationships with the community and local industry,” said Robert C. Dynes, University of California president, in a press release. “He has the skills and energy to successfully lead the continued development of Merced.”

Stephen Bishop, professor and associate head of electrical and computer engineering, worked closely with Kang when Bishop came to the University in 1989. Bishop became the director of the Microelectronics Laboratories and Kang became Bishop’s associate director, representing systems research. Bishop said Kang’s appointment as Chancellor was not surprising.

“When (Kang) goes somewhere, he will perform and be noticed by higher level administrators on the basis of how hard he works and what he accomplishes,” Bishop said.