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Sharing a Foundational Belief in Diversity

A Foundational Belief in Diversity

Joining Provost Ellen Junn at the Chang-Lin Tien Education Leadership Award event were her daughter Anna Murphy, friends Bob and Allyson Kavner, and husband Allan Greenberg (Asian Pacific Fund photo).

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Ellen Junn has received one of the nation’s highest honors for university leaders.

The Chang-Lin Tien Education Leadership Award honors Asian Americans who have significant academic accomplishments and the potential to advance to the highest leadership levels in higher education.

“Dr. Junn exemplifies Dr. Tien’s values not only in her foundational belief in the importance of diversity, but also through her exceptional skills as a leader,” said Robert Lee, an Asian Pacific Fund founding board member and Blue Shield of California board chairman.

Inspiring leadership

The award was created to inspire more Asian Americans to aspire to the leadership exemplified by Tien, the first Asian American to head a major U.S. research university as chancellor of University of California, Berkeley, from 1990 to 1997.

Among the 415 provosts in our association, Ellen is one of the most creative and imaginative leaders I have had the pleasure to work with,”  said George Mehaffy, a vice president at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. “She is at once bold and courageous, yet also collaborative and encouraging.”

Junn accepted the award Oct. 19 at the Asian Pacific Fund’s 20th Anniversary Gala. In his introductory remarks, Lee summarized the provost’s achievements:

“She is a first-generation Korean American, born in Illinois, and raised mostly in a small town near Grand Rapids, Michigan. Dr. Junn graduated cum laude from the University of Michigan in psychology, and earned a master’s and Ph.D. in cognitive and developmental psychology from Princeton University.

“She began her career in 1984 as an associate professor at California State University, San Bernadino. Since that time she has taken on increasing roles of responsibility and leadership within the California State University system — at Cal State Fresno and Fullerton.

Every step along the way, she has actively engaged in programs promoting greater support for diversity and inclusion, and addressed issues facing our Asian American community.”

Supporting diversity

SJSU and the California State University were well represented at the event. SJSU President Mohammad Qayoumi attended, as well as past award recipients including Belle Wei, former dean of the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering and current provost at Chico State.

Novelist and SJSU alumna Amy Tan was also at the dinner and live auction. She donated dim sum for eight at a San Francisco restaurant to discuss her upcoming novel, The Valley of Amazement. A bidding war ensued, and Tan generously agreed to do two separate lunches.

Raj Mathai, an NBC Bay Area evening news anchorman and San Diego State graduate, served as the evening’s master of ceremonies.

The Asian Pacific Fund is a non-profit foundation dedicated to strengthening the Bay Area’s Asian and Pacific Islander communities. The organization helps donors achieve their philanthropic goals, support organizations that serve the most vulnerable, and raise awareness about pressing community needs.