College of Humanities and Social Sciences

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SAUPO Invades KSU: An Interview with Dean Robert Dorff

ATLANTA, GA, USA – SAUPO began with a plethora of inspiration and the desire for shared expression of cross-cultural experience. Since its inception in 2011, this initiative has experienced rapid, monumental growth, due largely in part to the dedication and the application of a little elbow grease; Dr. May Gao and her loyal confidantes worked tirelessly to put SAUPO (and Asian Studies) on the map. However, the initial team soon realized they would need the help and support of their colleagues and superiors to make their dream a reality…

In July of 2012, Dr. Robert Dorff effectively became the dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS) for Kennesaw State University. Soon after his arrival, he became involved with the Asian Studies program initiative and the growth of the SAUPO conference, both of which were spearheaded by Asian Studies Scholar and KSU professor, Dr. May Gao. When asked why he so quickly and actively became involved in the Asian Studies program and the SAUPO conference, he explained that both of these initiatives are important and beneficial to students in numerous ways. He spoke of how the conference provides students with opportunities for networking, to publicize personal research, learn about multicultural interaction and help build connections with the Atlanta business community. He went on to explain the significance of the soon to come Asian Studies program (currently being reviewed by the Board of Regents) as the only Asian focused degree in the entire university system of Georgia.

When asked what role he plays in promoting and supporting these initiatives, he replied “I do what I can; I talk them up whenever I have a chance”. He said that he has been continuously supportive of these endeavors, specifically of SAUPO, helping to secure speakers, obtain financial assistance, attend planning meetings and actively promote these initiatives whenever possible. SPSU/KSU consolidation has constituted some difficulty, specifically affecting allocated discretionary funds, but still, KSU continues to support SAUPO.

One of Dr. Dorff’s most notable and recent contributions: the confirmation of three star general and longtime friend Bernie Champaoux for the 2015 SAUPO event. General Champaoux, the commanding general of the 8th U.S. army, a member of the U.S. Korean joint forces and the United Nations U.S. and Korea combined forces, was a much sought after speaker for this event. He has significant cross cultural experience, particularly in regards to U.S. and Korean relations. In addition to being a noteworthy speaker, General Champaoux is a longtime friend and former student of Dr. Dorff. The dean went on to say, “It has been over two years since I last saw him; I look forward to seeing him, and hopefully, his lovely wife again soon”.

Dr. Dorff was particularly proud to talk about SAUPO keynote speaker, Adil Kabani, from the White House Initiative on AAPIs and OPIC. He humbly professed “because of SAUPO’s association with this White House delegate, in May of 2013, Dr. Gao and I were invited to participate in the White House forum “Doing Business in Asia” on behalf of Kennesaw State University, and the only University in the United States to be extended an invitation at that”. He further explained how this is just one consequential instance of recognition, and that the conception and growth of the SAUPO conference has elevated the reputation of Kennesaw State University, all the while expanding opportunities, reach, connections and support. It was with great pride that Dr. Dorff declared “SAUPO has improved our reputation and generated notable visibility for KSU, especially the department of Humanities and Social Sciences.” He then went on to say “Dr. Gao has done a great job, she has brought in people from not just the campus but the community and I have no doubt that it will continue to grow and expand.” Dr. Dorff made it quite clear that his continuous support for these initiatives is simply because they are worthy endeavors that provide beneficial opportunities for students, faculty and the community.


Posted: December 2, 2014