Dr. Ching-Hua Wang has been named the next president of Samuel Merritt University (SMU). The appointment was announced to the SMU community today by Jonathan Brown, the chair of the SMU Board of Regents.
Wang currently serves as provost and vice president for academic affairs at California State University, Sacramento.
Assuming the SMU position on November 26, Wang will succeed Sharon Diaz, who announced her retirement earlier this year after serving for 36 years as the University’s first president.
“Throughout her distinguished career, Dr. Wang has demonstrated impressive leadership and a passion for education,” said Brown. “We considered many highly qualified candidates for the position. In the end, Dr. Wang’s extensive experience and commitment to student success made her an excellent choice to lead SMU into the future.”
At a gathering of faculty and staff on SMU’s Oakland campus today, Brown said Wang was selected from a competitive field of candidates in a nationwide search. He said the search committee was impressed by the dedication and integrity Wang has demonstrated throughout her career.
Before joining Sacramento State, Wang served as dean of the School of Health and Natural Sciences at Dominican University of California, where she was also a professor of immunology and microbiology.
Wang was one of the original 13 faculty members recruited to start California State University Channel Islands in 2001. She served as director for the Bridges Stem Cell Research Training Program, chair of several health science programs, and director of the Master of Science in Biotech and Bioinformatics program as well as special assistant to the provost.
“I am deeply honored and humbled to have been selected to serve as Samuel Merritt University’s next president,” Wang said today.
“If it had not been for Sharon Diaz’s strong leadership and all of your hard work, Samuel Merritt would not be where it is today,” Wang told faculty and staff. “I think together, working collectively, we will move the University forward.”
A native of Beijing, Wang was sent to a small village in Inner Mongolia as a teenager to get ‘re-educated’ during the turbulent period of China’s Cultural Revolution. Separated from her family, she worked in the fields and served as an elementary teacher at a one-room schoolhouse where her students came from impoverished families. She has said that those years of hardship taught her about resilience and the value of education.
After earning a medical degree from Beijing Medical College and a master’s degree in immunology from Beijing Medical University, Wang received a doctorate in immunology from Cornell University.
“When I enrolled at Cornell, it was my first time outside China and my first time on an airplane,” Wang said today, recounting her journey to the United States 37 years ago as a young graduate student with only $20 in her pocket.
Since then, she said, her family has moved back and forth across the country several times, but she considers her relocation to Oakland to assume leadership at SMU more significant.
“I am very proud to join the Samuel Merritt University family,” said Wang.
The press release about the presidential appointment can be read here.