by See Xiong
According to 2016 data from the American Council on Education (ACE), only 2.0% of college president identify as Asian or Asian American. Although Asian Pacific Islanders are one of the fastest growing populations in the United States and are well educated, not many Asian Pacific Islanders pursue college presidency positions.
Get to know five Asian Americans leading a 4-year public university with status as an Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution.
1. Dr. Ellen Junn, appointed 2016
California State University, Stanislaus
Dr. Ellen Junn became the 11thpresident of California State University, Stanislaus in 2016. She became the 2ndwoman of color to lead the University since its establishment in 1957 and the first Korean American woman to lead a 4-year university in the United States.
Before coming to CSU Stanislaus, Junn was the provost and vice president of academic affairs at CSU Dominguez Hills; Associate Provost at CSU Fresno, and Associate Dean of the College of Health and Human Development at CSU Fullerton. Junn received her Doctor of Philosophy in Cognitive and Developmental Psychology from Princeton University. Junn’s parents were immigrants to the United States after the Korean War. Her upbringing in segregated Georgia in the 1960s influenced her to strive for diversity at her campus to create an inclusive campus environment.
2. Dr. Bjong Wolf Yeigh, appointed 2013
University of Washington, Bothell Campus
Dr. Bjong Wolf Yeigh became the chancellor of the University of Washington, Bothell in 2013. Yeigh came to the United States from South Korea at the age of 11 and lived in Seattle. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy in civil engineering and operations research from Princeton University.
Before coming to UW Bothell, Yeigh was professor and president of the State University of New York Institute of Technology at Utica/Rome. Prior to that he was at Norwich University, where he held multiple leadership positions as vice president for academic affairs, dean of the faculty; and a joint professorship in the Mechanical Engineering Department and School of Business and management. He was also Dean of Engineering at Saint Louis University, Assistant Provost for Science and Technology at Yale University, Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering at Oklahoma State University, and lecturer at Princeton University. Yeigh is also a veteran of the United States Navy where he served as a Tactical Air Intelligence Officer.
3. Dr. Leroy M. Morishita, appointed 2012
California State University, East Bay
Dr. Leroy M. Morishita was appointed president of California State University, East Bay in 2012. Prior to his appointment as president, he was executive vice president and chief financial officer of Administration and Finance at San Francisco State University. Morishita holds an Education Doctorate (Ed.D) in administration, planning and social policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He is the chair of the California State University’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Initiative.
Morishita is 3rdgeneration Japanese American. His grandfather came to the United States from Japan and the Morishita family established a 40-acre farm in Del Rey, part of Fresno County. Read more on Morishita’s Life Lesson here.
4. Dr. Leslie E. Wong, appointed 2012
San Francisco State University
San Francisco, California
Dr. Leslie E. Wong was appointed the 13th president of California State University, San Francisco (San Francisco State University) in 2012. Prior to his appointment, he was president of Northern Michigan University. He also worked at Valley City State University, the University of Southern Colorado and Evergreen State College. Wong received his Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Psychology from Washington State University. In his commitment to student success, he leads San Francisco State University staff and faculty to commit to social justice, equity in public higher education.
5. Dr. Renu Khator, appointed 2008
University of Houston
Dr. Renu Khator became the chancellor of the University of Houston System and president of the University of Houston in 2008. She is the first Indian immigrant to head a major research university in the United States. Khator was born in Uttar Pradesh, Indian and received her Doctor of Philosophy in political science and public administration from Purdue University. Before coming to the University of Houston, she was Provost at the University of South Florida.
Within four years of joining the University of Houston, she led U of H to be ranked for the first time by U.S. News and World Report, being recognized by the Carnegie Foundation with Tier One status, as a world-class research university in 2012.