May 3, 1996
Taiwan's Vice President Honored
The Vice President and Premier of the Republic of China, Taiwan-a former faculty member at UW-River Falls-has been awarded an honorary doctorate by that institution.
Dr. Lien Chan was awarded the degree by the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents on the recommendation of Chancellor Gary A. Thibodeau and the Faculty Senate Public Relations Committee.
Vice President Lien will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters in a special ceremony from Thibodeau in Taipei later in May.
"The conferral of this honorary doctorate on now-Vice President Lien is particularly appropriate given the fact that he began his academic career at UW-River Falls," Thibodeau said. "He and his wife have very fond memories of River Falls, and the quality of our academic programs and the environment on the campus.
"Over the years we've continued to be in touch," the Chancellor noted. "He regards this campus as a very special starting point for his career. He regards this campus very warmly."
In March, Lien was elected vice president in the first general election in Taiwan's history. He is serving under President Lee Teng-hui, who previously nominated Lien as Premier of the Republic of China in 1993, a post he continues to hold.
Born in Shensi Province in 1936 in the present day People's Republic of China, Lien left the Mainland in 1945 to settle in Tainan, Taiwan. He earned a bachelor's degree in political science from National Taiwan University, received his doctorate from the University of Chicago and then entered into an academic career.
In 1965-66 Lien was an assistant professor in the political science department at UW-River Falls. He next accepted a similar teaching position at the University of Connecticut. He returned to National Taiwan University and served for six years as the director of its Graduate Institute of Political Science before beginning his political career with his appointment as ambassador to El Salvador in 1975.
Lien was appointed to a series of increasingly significant positions, including Director-General of the Department of Youth Affairs for the Central Committee of the Koumintang; Deputy Secretary-General to the Koumintang; Chair of the National Youth Commission; Minister of Transportation and Communications; Minister of Foreign Affairs; and Governor of the Taiwan Provincial Government.
Lien was a leader in many of the human and capital infrastructure improvements in Taiwan through his many positions. As minister of transportation, Lien established global shipping lanes and air routes to the island nation, and launched the construction of an underground railway network.
During his tenure with the National Youth Commission of the Executive Yuan, Lien played a leading role in recruiting students, scholars and experts residing in foreign nations to return their intellectual resources to Taiwan by living and serving at home.
As Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lien established diplomatic relations between the Republic of China and the Bahamas, Grenada, Belize and Guinea-Bissau, Liberia and Lesotho. He also was influential in Taiwan's re-entry into the board activities of the Asian Development Bank, and its entry into the GATT treaty.
As Governor of Taiwan Province, Lien participated in some 300 seminars with community leaders throughout the provice. His common touch and dedication won praise as he worked toward achieving balanced urban and rural development, and economic equality for its picturesque farming villages.
Following his appointment as premier in 1993, he again was credited with addressing a wide array of domestic and international issues. His administrative initiatives influenced such programs as the War on Drugs, Economic Stimulus Package, Asia-Pacific Operations Center, Re-participation in the United Nations, Expanded Distribution of Old-Age Living Allowances, and National Health Insurance.
Thibodeau noted that Lien's rapid rise and subsequent governmental influence in Taiwan has served the University, as well as the people of Taiwan. In 1990, UW-RF founded its Center for Pacific Rim Studies under the direction of economics Professor Charles Kao. Kao, who publishes two news and business magazines in Taipei, has been particularly active in helping the University develop its links to Taiwan and the Pacific Rim.
"Dr. Lien is a global person in every respect," Thibodeau related. "He understands the concepts of global education, and has always been vocally supportive of our efforts to engage with institutions in Taiwan and the Pacific Rim. In that respect, he has always been a positive influence in the internationalization of education in Taiwan and around the world."
Lien has been recognized previously through an Honorary Fellowship from the Centre for International Studies at the University of Cambridge, and was the recipient of the Medal of Honour from the University of Alcal de Henares.