Member Spotlight: C. Joseph Chang
Name: C. Joseph Chang
Member Since: 1998
Membership Level: President's Circle
City: San Marino
Job Title: President, Board of Education, San Marino Unified School District
Tell me how you first got involved with the Caltech Associates and why supporting Caltech is important to you.
I first got involved with Caltech Associates when friends invited me to the Athenaeum. I was surprised and drawn to how the program was so welcoming. The program supports an excellent research and academic program. I was so taken with the Institute that I joined the Associates.
While I am not an alumnus of Caltech, my membership allows me to explore my own curiosities and interests through the programs' opportunities. The Caltech Associates' opportunities are one of my favorite ways to enrich my own scientific understanding. It gives me an extra lens to understand and focus how I can contribute to my community. I enjoy supporting the students and the research programs of Caltech's faculty.
What do you wish other people knew about the Caltech Associates and what do you enjoy the most about being part of the Caltech Associates?
The Caltech Associates' program gives many opportunities to learn firsthand about biomedical advances from a world-class leader in research. This program allows me to continue learning, and I encourage others with a natural curiosity to join for this rare chance. I have sons in different stages of training to be physicians, and I frequently enjoy sharing what I have learned with them. To be able to see the process of invention and innovations that Caltech excels in and then see the applications in medicine is exciting.
Before I joined the Associates, Caltech appeared quite insular. I, like many of my friends, thought that the faculty and researchers were not accessible, but this couldn't be further from the truth. There is no physical boundary to the campus, and this is true of the talented people working there—they are happy to share their research and tell you what they are working on.
Now, as a Caltech Associates Board Member, I understand that membership dues are directly used to support the highest priorities, such as a faculty's research or funding scholarships for students. I believe it is important to support the type of research that Caltech is doing and Caltech Associates is a great way to show support.
Outside of your involvement with the Associates, what do you do?
Following in my father's footsteps, I studied hospital administration receiving my Master's in Hospital Administration from Tulane University: School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. I came to Southern California, originally from Taiwan, and I have been active as a healthcare executive in the greater Los Angeles community. I previously operated a community hospital in Glendora for 13 years, and now have moved on to developing new ventures in healthcare in Arcadia.
My wife, Shwu, and I have been residents of San Marino for over 27 years. I currently serve as the Board President of the San Marino Unified School District. I enjoy dedicating my time to volunteer work and have served as a Trustee of the San Marino Schools Foundation, Treasurer of the San Marino Public Library, Vice Chairman of Boards on the San Gabriel Valley Red Cross, past President of Chinese Club of San Marino, and a member of both the San Marino City Club and Rotary Club.
What might we be surprised to know about you?
Thirty-three years ago, I was an immigrant arriving in the U.S., and I feel so lucky to have had a successful career in healthcare. I now get to enjoy lifelong learning through involvement with the Caltech Associates and use my time to give back to help other local non-profits.
Do you have a favorite Caltech story?
While on the San Marino School Board, I had the honor of meeting the late professor Ahmed Zewail. His children attended San Marino public schools, and I appreciated his ardent support for the Parent Teacher Association and education. During a parent party, Professor Zewail donated a private tour of his lab for high-school students and talked to them about the journey to winning the Nobel Prize. This was an incredible experience and quite inspirational for these students—one of whom went on to get his undergraduate degree from Caltech and has now received his PhD at MIT. I am deeply grateful for Professor Zewail's dedication to education and motivating students.
I am passionate about inspiring the next generation of youth, and I believe in the importance of starting early. Last year, it was my privilege to deliver a Huntington Middle School graduation speech. It was a natural choice to share the story of Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity and how, 100 years later, his theory was proven by Caltech scientists. I believe there are many great stories happening on the Caltech campus. Hearing the student and faculty journeys are great motivation for the students as well as for myself and my teams to stay dedicated to improve the future.
Membership in the Caltech Associates is an unlimited resource. Depending on your interests, you can explore different fields of cutting-edge science, participate in programs, and interact with faculty and students at the best university in the world.