Nan Lin

A Perpetual Benefit and Mark of Distinction

The concept of an endowed chair professorship is relatively new in Taiwan and other parts of Asia, but Nan Lin, an alumnus of Tunghai University, believes it can bring lasting benefits to Asian higher education institutions. “In the U.S. context, an endowed chair creates prestige for an institution, and it is an honor for the professor,” he said. It also gives a college or university the financial resources to attract and retain a distinguished senior professor. Dr. Lin himself held a chair professorship – the Oscar L. Tang Family Chair Professorship – before his retirement from Duke University in the United States, a title he still holds in emeritus status. Now, working through the United Board, he is taking steps to support an endowed chair professorship at Tunghai University.

Like many of his contemporaries, Dr. Lin has been considering ways to give back to his alma mater. He appreciates that an endowed chair professorship ensures a permanent source of support for Tunghai: Dr. Lin ‘s contributions will constitute the principal for the endowment and the interest earned will create a stream of funding for the chair professorship. According to the terms of his endowment, Tunghai will select either a professor of sociology, social work, foreign languages, or Chinese literature to hold the Nan Lin and Alice Lin Chair Professorship. “The donor should not be involved in choosing the professor, but should trust the university to make the right choice,” he said.

Proud members of Tunghai’s Class of 1960.

Dr. Lin graduated nearly 60 years ago, in 1960, but he is quick to point out the benefits of the liberal arts education he and his late wife, Alice (Class of 1963), received during their undergraduate years at Tunghai. “All freshmen and sophomores took introductory courses across multiple disciplines – the humanities, science, math,” he said. “Learning the basic issues of a range of disciplines broadened our minds and gave us a better understanding of the world,” he said. His Tunghai education put him on a path to graduate school in the United States and an academic career as a professor of sociology, with research interests in social networks and social capital.

Tunghai’s Class of 1960 was small, with just 174 graduates, but that cohort built a lasting spirit of community and loyalty. “We learned from each other and built networks with each other before graduation,” Dr. Lin reflected, “and those networks remain intact,” nurtured by the annual or biannual class reunions held since 1990. Now Dr. Lin hopes he can inspire members of that network and other Tunghai supporters to consider supporting endowed chair professorships. “This would give both a perpetual benefit and mark of distinction to the university,” he said, a lasting expression of gratitude to the institution that nurtured them.

To read some of Dr. Lin’s advice on setting up an endowed chair professorship, click here.

The United Board is honored to steward nearly 200 endowments, each made possible by generous donor support. To learn more about options and requirements for endowments, click here or contact Trudy Loo, Senior Development Manager (