By Katie Farkas
In this column, The Delphian has been highlighting a different administrator at Adelphi University in each issue so that students get to know them better. We focus on what their administrative position is, their background and how they came to hold their current position.
Vincent Wei-cheng Wang, PhD, has been the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences since the fall of 2019. He said he is responsible for the “curriculum of the college, the recruitment, development and evaluation of faculty, and the welfare of our students and staff.”
One of the first things that he did when coming to Adelphi was work with the faculty to come up with a strategic plan for the college–something he said he’s proud of “because prior to that it had been many years since the college” had one. It was through working on the strategic plan that Wang said, “I learned a lot about the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities of the college. Our faculty are very conscientious and the few priorities they identified all have to do with students' educational opportunities.”
One of the main things that Wang is interested in as dean is creating opportunities to enhance student education.
“I think that we still have some room to grow in terms of providing students with undergraduate research opportunities, internship opportunities, study abroad opportunities and so on,” said Wang. “I am looking forward to working with our faculty, students and alumni to garner more resources. My goal is that we will be able to tell every incoming student to the College of Arts and Sciences to come to Adelphi because we will promise you at least one opportunity that will transform your life.”
The process of creating and then implementing this strategic plan was also one of Wang’s favorite memories. “ I think it really symbolized a process from the bottom up. It’s very democratic, it’s very inclusive and it included many thoughtful conversations,” he said.
Wang was a first generation student, political science major and earned a doctorate from the University of Chicago in 1995. One of his favorite classes was music appreciation, which he took while waiting to defend his dissertation. But one of the most useful classes he took and would recommend to every undergraduate student was microeconomics.
“I say to every undergraduate student while in college you should take a course in microeconomics because it's a basic, fundamental way of thinking,” he said. “It involves how to achieve your goal within the limit of resources.”
Along with taking a microeconomics class, Wang talked about the importance of making the most of your years in college.
“College is a time, not only for a degree, but also for an education. Lots of people complete their various requirements and they get a bachelor's degree. But you want to discover who you are in college, what excites you, what makes you passionate, what can sustain your interests for a lifetime,” Wang advised.
The dean also expressed the importance of getting to know professors with the reasons being both practical and profound. Practical, Wang said, because “most of you when you graduate will go on to do other things such as graduate school or a job and you need recommendation letters and the best recommendation letters are usually written by people who know you well and can speak intelligently about your personalities, your skills, your strengths and so on. So if you make a goal to know at least one professor each semester, by the end of your college career you will have a good reservoir of people that you can draw hopefully very positive letters from.”
Wang said the profound reason to know your professors is that “for young adults, this is the first time you are away and you will probably find few other places where adults ranging from just a few years older than you to your grandpa's age. You will see adults who genuinely care about you both for your educational growth and your growth as a person.”
The faculty that teach in the College of Arts and Science at Adelphi are ones who want to teach undergraduate students and really invest the time and energy, said Wang. “It is also quite apparent for example at the commencement. I see that the outpouring of affection from students toward their faculty and some of our faculty go to the commencement every year. These faculty understand that for their students this is their once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and are there to honor their students.”
Dean Wang said that outside of work some of his go-to activities are walking, biking and attending the many cultural opportunities offered in the city like the New York Philharmonic or the Metropolitan Opera. Once in a while, you will find him with his wife at a local Chinese restaurant. The couple have three children.
“My eldest daughter is a medical doctor and she and her husband live in Philadelphia. My son is the middle child. He lives in Ithaca, upstate New York and he's working for a consulting firm. He graduated with accounting and history dual degrees and graduated from Cornell with an MBA last year,” Wang said. “My youngest is a teenager and she is a high school senior. She plays piano and the violin and she is college-bound in a few months and we all have our fingers crossed just waiting for the decisions and to find out where she will go.”
Wang said that a memorable moment for him at Adelphi was last fall. “Our Performing Arts Center reopened for in-person performances and as you know the pandemic has really shuttered many things such as in-person performances.”
With the Performing Arts Center (PAC) being under his purview, Wang said, “I work with the faculty and the staff at the PAC to make sure that we not only maintain the highest health and safety standard, but also to ensure that even during the pandemic that there is still art.”