LeungsWinnie Leung '66 (Business Administration), second from left, was an ardent supporter of Sac State and helped the University establish many relationships with institutions in Hong Kong and China.

Sac State's China Connection

Campus builds on relationships begun by alumna Winnie Leung

Phyllis Leung ’95 (Interior Design) oohed and awed her way through Mariposa Hall this spring, contrasting the modern tools of today’s interior design students with the ones she used 20 years earlier.

Her Sac State degree set her up for a successful career as an interior designer in Hong Kong. Decades earlier, Leung’s mother Winnie set a strong precedent for her family, and hundreds of others, when she became the first Chinese-born female to earn a degree from Sac State’s College of Business Administration. All three of her children followed suit.

Winnie Leung ’66 (Business Administration), who died last fall in her hometown of Hong Kong, was early to recognize the mutual benefit of Sac State’s affiliations with Asia. She carved out a career as a successful business executive at a time when there were very few American-educated women in business leadership in China.

A recipient of an Honorary Doctorate and the President’s Award from Sac State, Leung founded Hong Kong’s Sac State Alumni Chapter, which continues to grow under the leadership of her children Phyllis and Daniel ’98 (Business Administration).

Her legacy of bringing people together, both in her home country and at Sac State, continues through a host of enduring partnerships.

“Winnie had a way of making those close to her feel like family,” Sac State President Alexander Gonzalez says. “We were very privileged to count her as a member of the Sacramento State family. Her strength of character was matched by her ability to recognize opportunities, and with us, that opportunity was the need for educational programs that could strengthen relationships between China and the United States.

“She helped Sacramento State create classes and programs. She opened doors and introduced us to the right people. And she established relationships with Chinese campuses that we would never have been able to achieve on our own.”

In May the University continued to expand on the groundwork laid by Winnie Leung. A contingent of 25 leaders from the Sacramento region, including provost Frederika (Fraka) Harmsen and Fred Baldini, dean of the College of Health and Human Services, visited Chongqing, China.

The group strengthened ties and established relationships with institutions in the region. The activities included:

- Harmsen meeting with 11 students at Chongqing University who will enter Sac State’s Masters of Science program in power engineering in the fall and signing a Letter of Intent to investigate a student exchange program to extend the relationship between the two universities.

- Harmsen and Baldini conversing with representatives from Chongqing University of Technology to discuss potential partnerships in the fields of international finance study and recreation and tourism.

- At Sichuan International Studies University, Harmson discussing a partnership project emphasizing music and dance that would bring together a performing group of students from SISU and Sac State.

- In an address to the Chongqing Commission on Education, Harmsen reinforcing Sac State’s commitment to support the Commission’s goal for teacher training at the K-12 level and to develop pathways for top high school students from China to study at Sac State.

Harmsen says the relationships Sac State is developing are valuable for everyone involved.

“Sacramento State’s partnerships in Asia are creating greater opportunities for the University and our students,” she says. “The opportunities for collaboration are enormous, as we are beginning to see with our work in Chongqing. I am hopeful that we can build on these partnerships to foster the career aspirations of students on both sides of the Pacific.”

The Leungs’ efforts to build the Hong Kong Alumni Chapter is reaping dividends as well.

“We currently have about 28 members,” Phyllis says. “Our gatherings help alumni find information on different fields in business and networking is a major part of the gatherings. There are many alumni who are very experienced and have great connections.

“Learning is a lifetime activity and I believe that there are no boundaries for learning,” Phyllis Leung says. “I think studying in a different country, a different culture, can widen one’s mind and knowledge.”

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