Featured alum: Ding-Jo Hsia '75 Currie
Ding-Jo Hsia was born in Taiwan after her parents left mainland China. When she was 15, her parents sent Ding-Jo and her sister to attend high school in Dayton, Ohio, home of a family friend. There, a teacher helped the teen learn English and adjust to American culture.
When she asked how she could repay her teacher, he told her something she never forgot: “Pay it forward. Choose to help others.”
She has dedicated her life to doing just that.
Ding-Jo Hsia ’75 Currie is internationally recognized asa visionary leader and unity builder in education:
- As the first Asian-American woman to serve as CEO of an institution of higher education, when she served as president of Coastline Community College
- As founder of China’s Higher Education Foundation, which promotes higher education collaborations between East and West
- As former chair of the 1,200-member Association of American Community Colleges, when, motivated by her generous scholarships at Manchester, she advocated passionately for increased Pell Grant funding
- As former chancellor of Coast Community College District in California, the seventh-largest community college district in the United States
Although she served in the community college system for more than 30 years, Dr. Currie would recommend a small liberal arts college to “anyone, anytime,
anywhere.” If we had more small liberal arts colleges, she says, our nation would have higher graduation rates. She fondly recalls her days at Manchester, where personable yet persistent faculty and staff helped her develop her leadership skills with rigorous coursework and opportunities. She also found a global perspective and an inspiring spiritual foundation.
Her Manchester degree in mathematics and psychology well-prepared her for graduate studies: a master’s degree in counseling at Wright State University and a Ph.D. in international/intercultural education at the University of Southern California. Today, Dr. Currie is a member of the research faculty team of California State University-Fullerton’s doctoral educational leadership program. She also serves on the MU Alumni Board of Directors.
For her leadership in higher education and for paying it forward to help others, Manchester presented Dr. Currie with an Alumni Honor Award last spring.
By Melinda Lantz ’81