Established NCKU College of Medicine to Develop Humanistic Literacy and Connects the World

/ Kun-Yen Huang / Founder and first president of NCKU College of Medicine

Though president Kun-Yan Huang was not an alumnus of NCKU, he oversaw everything throughout the stages of setting up NCKU College of Medicine, which later helped to set up the Taiwan Medical Accreditation Council (TMAC) to develop medical talent. He is widely respected as the father of Taiwan’s medical education and a selfless educator, artist, and innovator.

The father of Taiwan’s medical education, promoting a medical education that also focuses on humanistic literacy

President Kun-Yan Huang (1933-2012) was a widely admired scholar and an advocate of incorporating the humanities in health education in Taiwan, hence the name of the “father of Taiwan’s medical education.” He believed that the faculty’s humanistic thoughts and attitudes are the key to students’ core competencies, so he decided to create a mentor system. Even when he was extremely busy with setting up a medical school, he still made it a point to be present in many classes, and help teachers modify their research papers. In terms of space planning, the teachers’ offices are built with glass cubicle partitions that create an open space for teachers’ collaboration and exchange of ideas.

Dr. Huang was a globally renowned microbiologist who specialized in IFNs and infection immunology. At different points in time, he served as a visiting professor at NTU College of Medicine, founding president of NCKU College of Medicine, director of TMAC, minister of the Medical Education Committee under the Ministry of Education (MOE), and advisor to MOE. A highly esteemed and beloved doctor, he was also respected for many other identities as educator, innovator, artist, calligrapher, and literary writer.

Dr. Huang was an avid reader and a diligent writer and was keen to encourage medical students and young practitioners to develop humanistic competencies while pursuing medical knowledge, so they can become doctors with integrity, compassion, and professionalism. Two of his books, A Physician Writer’s Notes on Life (published in 2000), and Doctors Are No Angels: a Physician Writer’s Compassionate Care to His Patients (published in 2003), have been assigned by different medical schools as reading materials for students. In addition to writing medical textbooks, he also published a book titled A Few Thoughts on Raising Children and Parenting in 2004, which was actually an answer to the question about the nature of parenting =posed by two presidential candidates in 2004 Taiwan’s presidential election. This book is much loved, read, and shared by many Taiwanese parents. Even today, this inspiring book is worth reading carefully by parents.

Be an Influential Intellectual; Created NCKU College of Medicine to Seek Humanism in Healthcare

The most famous quote by President Kun-Yan Huang is: “To be an influential intellectual is the only career I intend to pursue.” It was the intellectual courage that had led the 49-year-old Dr. Huang who earned a good living and lived comfortably in the United States to accept the then NCKU President Dr. Han-Min Xia’s earnest invitation to help with establishing NCKU College of Medicine from scratch in 1982. Only a courageous intellectual would go to great pains to contribute to society.

This painstaking construction is the end result of former President Kun-Yan Huang’s aspiration and imagination in medical education as he had overseen everything through the process of construction and beyond, including recruitment of talented, qualified faculty, incorporation of the humanities and aesthetics into medical education, and design of curriculum.

Back then, many professionals were moved and persuaded by President Huang to teach at NCKU for the promising vision; a lot of the recruited professors from abroad actually rejected NTU’s offer before teaching at NCKU. By adhering to the motto: “Go all the way, or don’t go at all” over the course of his life, Dr. Huang had achieved many accomplishments, including setting up the NCKU medical school and hospital, so as to better the lives of people in southern Taiwan.
Under the leadership of Dr. Kun-Yan Huang, NCKU College of Medicine has been created to be an institution of higher education that is vastly different from the college of engineering. To be specific, it possesses the humanities concerns, an aesthetic pursuit, and aims to contribute to the common good. With his efforts in buying a Steinway Piano through fundraising, decorating the campus with artworks, setting up the Wu Tien Bookstore, building Shih Chuan Plaza, and helping to form the NCKU MCC (medical center chorus), NCKU College of Medicine has become an outstanding medical school and hospital that seeks humanistic care in a healthcare setting.

Created a Medical Accreditation System to Elevate Medical Schools to International Levels

Dr. Huang was not only the founder of NCKU College of Medicine but had also sought to be an influential figure in the educational field in Taiwan. One of his famous quotes is: “Before you become a doctor, become a man,” pointing to the fact that “it is for humans that medical practices are aimed,” as medicine is to treat patients with a disease instead of the disease itself. Many years have passed yet this still rings true.

Apart from being dedicated to medical education, Dr. Huang also advised the government to formulate new evaluation and accreditation systems for domestic medical schools. With his insistence on communication with authorities concerned, MOE officially set up TMAC and Taiwan Nursing Accreditation Council (TNAC), leaving a lasting effect on medical education in Taiwan. As pointed out by Yan-Shen Shan, the incumbent president of NCKU college of medicine, the completion of the medical accreditation system has set up rules for all medical schools in Taiwan to comply with and elevated domestic medical schools to international levels.

National Issues Were Also a Lifelong Concern for Dr. Kun-Yan Huang

Dr. Huang led an NGO delegation to Europe for lobbying for Taiwan’s right to join the World Health Organization and years later, strove for the opportunity to join the Association for Medical Education in Western Pacific Region (AMEWPR) as a non-member. It was considered a major diplomatic breakthrough at that time.

Though Dr. Huang is no longer with us, he will be forever remembered in the form of rosy trumpet trees planted in the front yard of NCKU college of medicine, as these blossoming trees are nicknamed as “the tree of practicing medicine” so NCKU faculty and students will not forget the motto that is passed down by Dr. Huang: “Before you become a doctor, become a man.” (Photo credit: CommonWealth Magazine)

NCKUer |
Years of presidency in NCKU Hospital |
Achievements and Honors |

Kun-Yan Huang

from the year when the hospital was established in 1984 till 1995

・Graduated from George Washington University (School of Medicine) and earned a doctorate degree in microbiology in 1966. He had been hired by the university for 16 years since 1968 and made great contributions toward IFNs and infection immunology during that period of time.

・In 1982, Dr. Huang returned to Taiwan by request to help establish NCKU Medical Center, which was among the Fourteen Major Construction Projects.

・Acted as proxy director of the Clinical Research Division of the National Health Research Institutes in 1998, leading the project on Chunan Science Park’s facilities and buildings construction.

・Elected to be the director of TMAC in 2000.

・Led an NGO delegation to Europe for lobbying for Taiwan’s right to join the World Health Organization in 2000, yielding satisfactory diplomatic results.

・Strove for Taiwan’s participation as a non-member in AMEWPR in 2008, which is a major and much welcomed diplomatic breakthrough to Taiwan.

・The book Doctors Are No Angels: a Physician Writer’s Compassionate Care to His Patients (published in 2003) has been used as assigned reading to students of different medical schools.

Kun-Yan Huang / from the year when the hospital was established in 1984 till 1995

・Graduated from George Washington University (School of Medicine) and earned a doctorate degree in microbiology in 1966. He had been hired by the university for 16 years since 1968 and made great contributions toward IFNs and infection immunology during that period of time.

・In 1982, Dr. Huang returned to Taiwan by request to help establish NCKU Medical Center, which was among the Fourteen Major Construction Projects.

・Acted as proxy director of the Clinical Research Division of the National Health Research Institutes in 1998, leading the project on Chunan Science Park’s facilities and buildings construction.

・Elected to be the director of TMAC in 2000.

・Led an NGO delegation to Europe for lobbying for Taiwan’s right to join the World Health Organization in 2000, yielding satisfactory diplomatic results.

・Strove for Taiwan’s participation as a non-member in AMEWPR in 2008, which is a major and much welcomed diplomatic breakthrough to Taiwan.

・The book Doctors Are No Angels: a Physician Writer’s Compassionate Care to His Patients (published in 2003) has been used as assigned reading to students of different medical schools.

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生物學系77級

吳漢忠

中央研究院細胞與個體生物學研究所特聘研究員暨生醫轉譯研究中心主任