47 Years History of Chinese-American Faculty Association of Southern California (CAFA)
The Birth of CAFA
More than a quarter of a century ago, in August 1969, a small group of Chinese American faculty members from Los Angeles area attended a luncheon in Chinatown. Several of them expressed interest in forming a Chinese Faculty Organization in Southern California for the purpose of promoting friendship and social ties, to create a forum for discussions and exchange views and to help the Chinese Community. At the party an organization committee was formed and consisted of the following members: Sunney I. Chan (Caltech); Theodore Chen (USC); Lois W. Chi (California State University, Dominquez Hills); Y.C. Chu (UCLA); Robert I. Lin (Caltech); Tung-po Lin (California State University, Northridge); and George C. Wang (U.S.C.). The committee elected the founding officers as follows;
- President: Theodore Chen (U.S.C.)
- Secretary: Sunney I. Chan (Caltech)
- Treasurer: Lois Chi (California State Dominguez Hills)
By December of that year the organization Committee had drafted a constitution named the association “The Chinese Collegiate Colleagues of So. California (CCC SC)”. The constitution was ratified on February 21, 1970 at an inaugural banquet in the Golden Palace Restaurant in Chinatown, with 68 persons present (including spouses and guests). Professor Orient Lee, a noted Chinese historian, famous for his entertaining talk on the Three Kingdoms, was the guest speaker (in case you are curious, the price for the banquet then was $6.50/person, tax & tip included). At this meeting, election of members of the executive council was conducted and results were as follows:
- President – Theodore Chen (USC)
- Vice President/president Elect. – Sunney I. Chan (CIT)
- Secretary – Tien Fan Tao (UCLA)
- Treasurer – Lois Wong Chi (CSU Dominguez Hills)
- Social Chairman – Teresa Sun (CSLA)
Five years later the organization changed its name to the present “Chinese-American Faculty Association (CAFA)”.
In June 1970, the first year of the association, a directory listing all Chinese faculty in Southern California from Santa Barbara down to San Diego was published. It listed 219 names from 19 universities/colleges. At the crucial first year, the executive council and members worked extremely hard in reaching out to the 19 campuses. We successfully recruited 51 paid members. With the exception of Loyola University and U.C. Riverside we had at least one representative from each of the other 17 campuses, a record to be proud of. CAFA had its ups and downs, but each year we strived forward to make it a better year than the year before. However the growth for membership remained slow. In 1982, K.W. Chu pressed for a membership drive. He and C.Y. Lin published the first issue of CAFA Directory with the membership increased to 77. In 1985, after 15 years of history CAFA decided to have an all out membership drive. With the tireless work of Lois Chi (then President) and Phoebe Dea (Chair, Membership Committee) the membership jumped to 153. Today we have 219 names listed in our 1996 Directory, including 40 life members.
For more than two and a half decades, CAFA has been faithfully carried on its traditional annual convention and the yearly picnic. In 1983, CAFA had a joint picnic with CAESASC (Chinese-American Engineers and Scientists of Southern California), UACL (United American-Chinese League) and NCUAA (National Central U. Alumni Association) and had a great time. Since the mid-80’s the picnic ground had been changed from parks to different campuses, so as to provide an opportunity for better acquaintance with other campuses. As for business meetings, in the early years, it was a common practice to conduct them in the home of members with pot luck. This would enhance a closer tie among members as well as to act on matters or debate issues in a relaxing home atmosphere.
In 1985, CAFA reached the 15 year milestone. Many dedicated members energized CAFA in launching out new programs first in its history. They included initiating technical meetings; Membership Committee; Award and Scholarship Committee; published the official Newsletter Vol. 1, No. 1 of 16 pages; and started the convention journal (which helps to record events and awards) and has been continued ever since. One of the key contributions of that year was the Scholarship and Award Committee (they combined the two together at the first year) who undertook the initial fund raising for scholarship and raised $905.00. With that CAFA awarded two CAFA first time scholarship recipients, Vincent Ng (Electrical Engineering USC) and Linda Huang (Biology UCLA). Since then CAFA has awarded 47 scholarships of mostly $500.00 each. CAFA’s first Distinguished Achievement Award was presented to Professor S.B. Woo, then Lieutenant Governor of Delaware, and the Keynote Speaker for the 1985 convention, held at the Bonaventure Hotel, Los Angeles. Professor Woo helped in drawing more than 700 attendants, an all time high record. A couple dozen of unregistered, last minute arrivals even had to be regretfully turned away, unprecedented in CAFA history.
Incorporation of CAFA
CAFA has endeavored to incorporate as a non-profit association since 1986. There were attempts but never completed. It was in 1994 with the enthusiasm of Jimmy Hwang who finally incorporated CAFA in the State of California as a non-profit, tax-exempt corporation. Currently, Jimmy Hwang is also in the process of incorporating the CAFA Scholarship Foundation
CAFA Scholarship Foundation
Since CAFA Scholarship Foundation and CAFA work closely together, a brief history is hereby included. CAFA Scholarship Foundation was organized by a planning committee consisting of Otto Chang, Henry and Lois Chi, Sun-Yiu Fung, Henry and Ruth Hsiung. The main purpose of this Foundation is to raise endowment for CAFA scholarships and to a lesser extent for the seed money for developing young faculty members in research or publication. On August 20, 1995, the preliminary structure of the Foundation was formed. Officers of the CAFA Scholarship Foundation Board were elected and they are Lois Chi, Chair, Sun-Yiu Fung, Co-chair, Otto Chang, Treasurer, and Secretary, Ruth Hsiung. A committee to develop by-laws was established. By November 5th the rational of the independence of the Foundation and separated from CAFA was clarified. New members agreeing to join the board are Wellington Chan, Tu-Nan Chang, K.W. Chu, Phoebe Dea (to start in 1996), Jimmy Hwang and Robert Lee. On the same day, elections were held for Foundation officers and Jimmy Hwang was elected as the president of the foundation, and Wellington Chan as Vice President. The By-laws are now ready and ratified by board members and to be used for the incorporation of the Foundation.
Future Visions to be Sought
Look back over the past 26 years, CAFA has come a long way; still there is much to be done and a long way to go. Looking ahead for the next quarter of a century we shall be armed with new visions and new missions as we enter the changing world in the year 2000. One thing for sure, CAFA might tumble but always rebound and the responsibility of educating the younger generations and training leadership for the years to come is the endless commitment of all CAFA members.
This article was prepared by Lois W. Chi
and published in the journal of the CAFA Scholarship Foundation Convention on October 7, 1997 (edited by Ruth Hsiung