- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 17, 2017

VINCENNES, Ind. (AP) - Vincennes University’s new Updike Hall now has an infusion of Chinese culture thanks to a donation of “priceless” ancient pottery from an alumnus.

About 20 VU alumni from areas of China, primarily Hong Kong, returned to the university Saturday afternoon to celebrate the opening of a new exhibit of ancient pottery and artifacts donated by 1979 graduate Johnson Wong, now a successful civil engineer living in Suzhou a city in Jiangsu Province in eastern China.

The collection - which features hand-crafted artifacts representing Chinese Dynasties dating back to 960 A.D. - was given to VU in honor of C.W. Chu, whose foundation provides scholarships to help university, high school and primary school students to finish their studies, often in the U.S.

Johnson Wong was one of those C.W. Chu scholars years ago.

From the 1960s to the 1980s, the C.W. Chu Foundation provided scholarships to more than 700 students in Hong Kong to study in the U.S., and many of them began their undergraduate studies right here at VU. Several went on to complete advanced degrees at institutions such as Purdue University, M.I.T. and Stanford University, among others.

David Chu, C.W. Chu’s son, is now the chair of the C.W. Chu Foundation and is a leader in China’s clothing and garment industry, according to VU officials. On Saturday, he was bestowed with an honorary doctorate in education from VU, the highest honorary distinction VU can offer.

And the Chinese art collection was offered to VU in celebration of David Chu’s accomplishments and philanthropy.

“It’s special for so many reasons,” said VU president Chuck Johnson as he gazed at the more than 40 pieces, each of them representing the Yuan, Northern Song, Ming and Qing Chinese Dynasties. “The beauty of them is one reason, of course. They really add something to this building.

“But it’s also significant to us as so many of our Hong Kong alumni majored in science and engineering, disciplines studied right here in this building,” he said. “And to have art here, too, is important to remind people of the strength of the human spirit.”

Some of the collection’s pieces - many of them vases and small sculptures adorned with bright, beautiful colors and intricate drawings - are as much as 1,000 years old and now nestled in lighted cases and protected with shatter-proof glass.

VU has designated the space as the C.W. Chu Pavilion.

It’s the first exhibit of his artifact collection on display in the U.S., Wong said, although he has given similar collections to a dozen universities and museums in China.

Johnson called the pieces “priceless” and likely representative of the largest monetary gift ever given to VU.

Wong, himself, in a brief speech to the small group gathered at Updike Hall Saturday afternoon, thanked those at VU for his first educational experience in this country.

“(My) two years here (in) Vincennes really changed me,” he said.

A handful of current VU students from Hong Kong gathered for the ceremony as well. Having this new collection of their history, they said, was like having a little piece of home nearby.

“Having a bit of Hong Kong culture here, we can share it with other students,” said Gabi Lee, a sophomore sociology major. “We can share those stories with other students, and they can tell us about their homes as well.

“Sometimes we feel homesick,” she said with a laugh. “So it’s nice to be around other Hong Kong students. And now we can come here, too.”

David Chu could not be in Vincennes Saturday to accept his honorary doctorate. Accepting on his behalf was Wai Yee Chan, master of C.W. Chu College at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

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Source: Vincennes Sun-Commercial, https://bit.ly/2yOjv8x

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Information from: Vincennes Sun-Commercial, https://www.vincennes.com


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