C. J. Chang

Chung Hua University
PhD ’79 (Civil Engineering)

For his distinguished career in government and higher education, and for his outstanding contributions to the people of Taiwan

In Pursuit of His Dream

As a child growing up in Taipei, Taiwan, C. J. Chang had one dream, he says: “to become a civil engineer and to be able to design and construct large transportation infrastructures.” Chang dedicated himself to that goal, graduating from Taiwan’s National Cheng Kung University in 1973 and California State University in 1976 with bachelor’s and master’s degrees, respectively, in civil engineering.

He chose Purdue for his doctoral work. There, he studied with Harold Michael, head of the transportation area and, Chang recalls, “the most decent and highly respected professor I have ever met.” Professors Robert Miles and Kumares Sinha were thesis advisors, providing valuable guidance and an indelible model of scholarship and hard work.

“I was an ambitious student,” Chang says. “How to strengthen my personal capabilities and make myself a well–equipped professional were the issues I thought most about.” He completed his coursework and dissertation in only two and a half years–a tremendous challenge–but nevertheless made time to be involved in the Chinese Student Association and Chi Epsilon, the national civil engineering honor society. “My Purdue education,” he says now, “enabled me to equip myself and make myself a qualified and capable engineer.”

Transportation in Taiwan

PhD in hand, Chang taught at Marquette University for two years and then returned to Taiwan, serving as the director of the Graduate Institute of Traffic and Transportation Students at National Chiao Tung University. In 1987 he joined Taiwan’s Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC), where he emerged as a major force in the country’s transportation sector. Serving as director general of the Institute of Transportation, a unit devoted to research and planning, Chang advanced in 1995 to the rank of vice minister, the ministry’s highest civilian position, overseeing not only land, maritime, and air transportation but also post, telecommunications, meteorology, and tourism affairs under MOTC jurisdiction.

“I was involved in almost all the major national transportation infrastructure development projects for the past 20 years,” he says, including a comprehensive multimodal transportation plan for Taiwan involving road, rail, air, sea, and metropolitan transportation systems.

Chang was also responsible for planning and implementing a high–speed railroad system, as well as developing plans for freeway network development, urban mass rapid transit development, nationwide harbor development, and nationwide airport development, which included transforming the CKS International Airport into a hub for the Asia Pacific region. From improved bus service and taxi operations in Taipei to computerized traffic control systems through Taiwan, virtually every Taiwanese citizen has experienced the benefits of Chang’s work.

Recognizing his profound impact on the country’s quality of life and economic well–being, the Taiwanese government awarded Chang the Gold Medal of Professional Excellence in Transportation on his retirement from government service in 2005.

At the Helm of Chung Hua University

His civil engineering dream realized, Chang has taken on another far–reaching responsibility: the leadership of Chung Hua University.

Founded in 1990 in Hsinchu, Taiwan, the university is one of the country’s youngest and most rapidly growing educational institutions, now enrolling some 10,000 students. Chang assumed the presidency in 2005, overseeing colleges of Engineering, Information Science, Management, Architecture and Planning, and Humanities and Social Sciences, and Tourism.

“My greatest challenge now is to make this university one of the best in my country,” Chang says. “I am confident that within three to five years, this goal will be achieved.”

International collaboration is a major emphasis. “In this era of the global village,” Chang says, “we have a comprehensive plan as well as pragmatic approaches for expanding and strengthening collaborations with other countries to facilitate our academic research and objectives.”

More broadly, Chang urges all institutions of higher education, including engineering schools at Purdue and elsewhere, to establish more student exchange programs. “It’s important for college students to have the chance to learn about the world by visiting and studying in other countries,” he says. “ All students in this age need to have an international perspective and broad vision to cope with our changing world and the globalization of the world economy.”

2005– President, Chung Hua University, Hsinchu, Taiwan
2005 Gold Medal of Professional Excellence in Transportation (Taiwan)
1995–2005 Vice Minister, Ministry of Transportation and Communications, Taiwan
1998 Acting Director General, Civil Aeronautic Administration, Taiwan
1998 Outstanding Civil Servant of 1998, Sun Yin Shung Memorial Foundation
1994–95 Commissioner, Taiwan Provincial Government
1987–95 Director General, Institute of Transportation, Ministry of Transportation and Communications, Taiwan
1982–87 Professor and Director, Institute of Traffic and Transportation Studies, National Chiao Tung University
1981– Adjunct Professor, Department Civil Engineering, National Taiwan University
1981 Past Presidents’ Award, International Institute of Transportation Engineers (U.S.)
1981–82 Associate Professor, Institute of Traffic and Transportation, National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan
1979–81 Assistant Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, Marquette University
BSCE ’73, National Cheng Kung University
MSCE ’76, California State University
PhD ’79, Purdue University