The OC CAL Alumni Club is profiling Bill Hsiang, who has offered to underwrite the New Student Reception to pay his dues to CAL, to thank fellow alums for their support, and to send this message:
I am an opportunist. I saw an opportunity to acknowledge CAL's impact on my family, and grabbed it. Our CAL Family includes myself (68), daughters Brittany (03) & Tiffany (05), and son-in-law Michael Chen (97).
I also saw an opportunity to share a message. In sponsoring the New Student Reception, and as a chair of the Alumni Leadership Scholarship, I am supporting CAL's commitment to excellence in selecting the best-- students who demonstrate outstanding achievements and character.
That’s us. Imbued with that CAL legacy, let’s commit to that spirit of excellence in exerting our leadership influence for a better world.
As originator of the "CAL Conversation and Cuisine Circle" (C-4) and “Ethics in Wonderland”, may I invite you to contemplate those questions and engage in those conversations?
Bill was at CAL at the birth of the Free Speech Movement. As a “book-learner”, he was clueless to the turmoil on campus. He tried to join ROTC (for financial aid), but was not eligible (as a foreign student--Chinese from Thailand), even as ROTC was being evicted from campus by the anti-war (Vietnam) protests. Only after reading the Free Speech Movement book (a gift from his daughters) did he come to appreciate the historic impact of the events on campus. Today, he is amazed that the CAL ethics—independent thinking and individual responsibility—have been so deeply ingrained in him.
Some CAL highlights:
FRESHMAN YEAR—My roommate, Bob, was a student from LA. During the Sproul Hall sit-in’s, his sister in SF called to say that he’s been arrested, she’s trying to raise bail, so please don’t tell the parents. After dinner, they called. Parents: “Is Bob there?” I: “No; he should be back soon.” Parents: “Thought we saw him on TV.” Oops!
SPORTS—I went to one basketball game. Someone had a free ticket to the CAL-UCLA game with Lew Alcindor (aka. Kareem Abdul Jabar, NBA Hall of Famer). I went to one football game, an unremarkable Big Game. But I saw the last minutes of a CAL-Illinois game. There was a big roar from the stadium as I was returning from Strawberry Creek. The gates were open, so I walked in. CAL had just scored but was still trailing. CAL pulled an on-side kick and recovered the ball when it bounced off Illinois’ Dick Butkus (NFL Hall-of-Famer). CAL QB Craig Morton (NFL Hall-of-Famer) threw a final pass which was caught in the end zone. The crowd went wild; then silent. The receiver landed out of bounds.
BMOC—CAL had a national championship gymnastic team led by an Olympian who is brother of a movie-TV star. One day, I was hitting a tennis ball against a wall while a couple played on the next court. When she sat down, he asked me to play with him. When we finished, he introduced himself as Rick Field. “Sally’s brother,” I kidded.
AS ALUM—My CAL family was privileged to cruise in Russia with Chancellor Robert Berdahl and his family. Berdahl led CAL during my daughters’ time there, and he was the lecturer on the trip.
Bill went on to U. Penn for his DMD (abbv. for “dumb-n-dumber”). He met his wife, Panee (also from Thailand) at the Philadelphia International House. They married in 1975 and have 2 daughters. When Brittany graduated from high school, the sisters lamented they’d never be in school together again. They were at CAL together. As Tiffany headed to CAL, she said: “Dad tried to join ROTC; my sister joined a church; I’ll go to CAL and do it right!”
Bill is a dentist in Irvine. Garden View Dentistry provides comprehensive care in a state of the art office with a view of a tranquil garden that he planted. He also writes, especially on the ethical implications of community and professional issues, ie. dentists’ relationship with insurance. Now he is the self-proclaimed “Ethics hemorrhoid of Irvine, a pain in the ‘you-know-where’”.
His practice is proudly insurance-independent, setting him apart from 95+% of his profession. The office assists patients with insurance claims and maximizing benefits, but he is not on any restrictive insurance provider list. He believes that, for dentists as well as patients, the choice should be based not on money, but on ethical principles. He wonders: “Do patients want me to be their advocate, or an agent for the insurance corporation?” And “Does it foster excellence if doctors are selected based not on their reputation, but from an insurance provider list?” That, he believes, was how CAL taught us to think.
He serves as district chair for the Alumni Scholarship selection process, and deeply appreciates those who help with this crucial program over the years. The bright young students they interview bring back memories of a time when he too left for CAL as an Alumni Scholar.
He also initiated the CAL Conversation and Cuisine Circle (C-4) for those who enjoy meaningful conversations and unique dining experiences. The first conversation was on 9-11’s 10th anniversary. Another was on “Ethics in Wonderland” (EiW is another of his unconventional creations). EiW asks: “Do you wonder if ‘ethics’ has fallen down a rabbit-hole and is wandering in Wonderland, where things make no sense? How can we bring it back where it belongs?” It is a gentle invitation to engage in a touchy conversation. In a way, this is in keeping with the Class of 68’s 40th anniversary gift to CAL—a Center on Civility. Imagine the Class of 68 advocating civility; even campus radicals mellow with age!
The OC CAL Alumni Club looks forward to profiling other OC CAL alums and sharing their stories.