Co-Founder of Asian American Studies Department to Retire
After 38 years of teaching Professor Jeffery Paul Chan reflects on his career
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Jeffery Paul Chan was in the midst of getting his master’s degree in creative writing at SF State when he was plucked from the halls and offered an opportunity to teach part time.

“They (SF State English department) gave me a part time appointment,” said Chan, who teaches Asian American Studies and English. “And what did I do? I spit in their face and joined the strike, but they kept me on (the staff).”

It was 1967 and SF State was undergoing change. Chan's eloquence helped him play a valuable roll in the 1968 student and faculty strike by allying him with other organizations fighting for curriculum changes, different course offerings, equality of entry to SF State, and literature that would make classes "more relevant to the world around them."

Now, 38 years later, Jeffery Chan is getting ready to retire.

The American-born Chinese professor played a major part in creating SF State's Ethnic Studies department. He was also a “key leader in the development of the Asian American Studies Program,” according to Ann Shadwick, ethnic studies librarian.

He has twice served as first chair of the Asian American Studies department.

Early in his career he taught creative writing in community centers and he recruited “students from low socio-economic communities to enroll in college,” according to Rosalie Alfonso, ethnic studies department administrative analyst.

Chan jokes and says he’s been here “too long,” but hearing Chan and his colleagues reflect on his career shows how much he has loved teaching.

“He is warm and caring and he has spent his life fighting for the Asian American Studies program and students at San Francisco State,” said Shadwick.

Chan has been in the Faculty Early Retirement Program that allows professors with tenure to teach one semester every year for up to five years before they fully retire. It has given him the chance to “practice for retirement,” as Chan puts it.

When he is not teaching at SF State, he spends his time teaching in Rome and at different universities all over Europe. In retirement, Chan plans to continue writing, watch the growing dynamics of the
Chinese population in Italy, and spend time with his family, especially his grandson.

He said he will miss the students and has a lot of respect for all that they accomplish while attending SF State.

“They (SF State students) never cease to amaze me,” said Chan. “At San Francisco State students take about seven years to graduate. They work full time. They hold city jobs. That makes me aware of what I will miss the most,”

Chan is still a true activist at heart, and says what he will not miss the university bureaucracy.

“This is not to say I won’t miss the bureaucrats. The people who have to do it and run all the clerical stuff are extremely important,” explained Chan. “But sometimes we forget ourselves if we make too many rules.”

After reflecting on the campus and its changes throughout the years, Chan doesn’t think that the campus changed from the “nurturing, vital, creative” place that it was in the late 60’s.

“Professor of Asian American Studies and of English, Jeffery Chan has touched the lives of thousand of students/artists and teachers and we're glad he did,” said Alfonso.

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