Strengthening the “Bricks and Mortar” of the University
David Pong, professor emeritus of history at the University of Delaware, had been giving to the United Board for years before he realized the role it played in his own family’s history. In 1947, his father, Rev. James Tak-Ming Pong, was a professor at Lingnan University in Guangzhou when he learned he had been awarded a scholarship from the Associated Board for Christian Colleges in China (later renamed the United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia). That scholarship enabled his father to earn a master’s degree in government from the University of Chicago. It stood him in good stead later as he pursued theological studies at St. Augustine’s College, Canterbury and Oxford University, held academic leadership positions in Hong Kong and Taiwan, and served as the Episcopal Bishop of Taiwan in the 1970s.
“Once I learned my father was connected to the United Board, I recruited my sister, Rachel, to give as well,” Dr. Pong recalled. They support faculty scholarships, which enable young faculty to pursue advanced degrees – the type of scholarship that helped their father 70 years ago. “The quality of teaching faculty is very important,” Dr. Pong said, “as faculty are the bricks and mortar of the university.” Dr. Pong understands the importance of faculty development – he served as a professor of history for more than 43 years and advised the State of Delaware on curriculum reform – as well as the role that college and university leaders play in helping faculty grow and thrive. “Without good leadership, faculty become frustrated,” he said. “Leaders lay down the vision, framework, and infrastructure for faculty to develop.”
Dr. Pong also has given much thought to whole person education and the ways in which campus life can shape students. “A whole plethora of things outside of a classroom education makes a person whole,” he said, and following his retirement from the University of Delaware in 2013, he accepted an invitation to put some of those ideas into practice as the master of one of the new residential colleges at the University of Macau. The goal was to help students look beyond exams and practice critical thinking skills, develop global awareness, and become better at interpersonal relationships. He emphasized the importance of teamwork, increased opportunity for students to go abroad for study or to participate in events such as choral festivals, and shared meals with his students several times a week. He also underscored the importance of service: “I taught that there is no leadership without service.”
The United Board appreciates Dr. Pong’s leadership and service in support of whole person education and is grateful for the contributions he and his sister Rachel provide to the Faculty Scholarship Program.