Made Generous Donation to His Alma Mater

/ Xue-Kun Ma / Founder of Forchem International Corp

The Zhao Kun Precision Instruments Building, situated in the Tzuchiang Campus, was donated by Chairman Xue-Kun Ma, an alumnus who graduated with Summa Cum Laude from the Dept. of Mechanical Engineering in its ninth year during the period of Japanese rule. Ma is distinguished not only as a high-achiever in class, but also as one of the first few NCKU alumnus-turned entrepreneurs. After graduation, he started his career in the petrochemical industry and finally found a successful company. His generous donation to his alma later perfectly showed an entrepreneurial spirit and a noble mind willing to contribute to society.

Expanding His horizons Under the Influence of His Mentor Prof. Bo-Seng Lim

In 1923, Chairman Ma was born in the old Dadaocheng area in Taipei under Japanese rule. Upon admission into the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Tainan Senior Industrial Vocational School (currently NCKU), he found himself in a class of 65 with less than ten Taiwanese students. He lamented that the status of Taiwanese in the school back then was inferior to others. He made up his mind to study harder. At this juncture, he met Prof. Bo-Seng Lim, the most important mentor in his life.

As a Doctor of Philosophy of Columbia University in the City of New York, Prof. Lim was appointed by NCKU to teach English and German to undergraduate students and also served as director of the college library. His classes were always packed with enthusiastic students, and Xue-Kun Ma was one of them. When Ma sat in the classroom listening to Prof. Lim lecturing about philosophy and religious views, he was immensely inspired by his instruction, saying, “That is a thought-provoking enlightenment, allowing me to see the light of hope.”

As a graduate with the highest honors, Xue-Kun Ma initially wanted to pursue advanced studies in Japan, yet the Pacific War disrupted his plan. He stayed in Taiwan and accepted a job at the recommendation of a professor. The position was opened by Nippon Oil Corporation in Miaoli, which was later restructured to CPC Corporation, Taiwan. Xue-Kun Ma was assigned with tasks including monitoring oil wells and mixing drilling mud so as to keep the temperature in the wells from rising. This job offered a great opportunity for him to learn about chemicals. He then decided to pursue this career path. After the end of the war, the Japanese government withdrew from Taiwan, and the oil farms were taken over by the KMT government. It occurred to him that he should start his own business.

Devoting Selflessly and Earnestly to Technology Exchanges Between Domestic and Overseas Petrochemical Plants

In 1951, Ma founded Forchem International Corp. as a supplier of petrochemical products, specializing in distribution and marketing in Taiwan. At the beginning of his business, he procured a large number of English and Japanese books, subscribed to international magazines to increase his knowledge of various chemical compounds and additives. Around that time, Taiwan’s manufacturing industry was in its initial development phase. All sectors of the industry were in urgent need of new knowledge. Being an active, studious entrepreneur, Chairman Ma was not only knowledgeable with a great fund of knowledge, but also willing to help others. He often brought knowledge to help his peers solve problems. He was unsurprisingly nicknamed as “Professor Ma” by professionals in the industry.

Chairman Ma often told his family and friends, “Open your eyes to what is happening in the world.” This reveals an eagerness to keep in tune with the times. From 1951 onward, he has endeavored to promote technology exchanges between domestic petrochemical plants and their counterparts based in Europe, Japan, and the United States. This has won him a reputation within the industry. In 1970, he began to actively participate in the International Rotary Club to expand its social services, activities and international exchanges. After hard work, Former Chairman Ma finally succeeded in his career and became a typical hardworking and successful entrepreneur.

Donation to His Alma Mater with Deep Gratitude

In 1987, Ma read a news report about his mentor Prof. Bo-Seng Lim’s 100th birthday and immediately initiated a proposal to raise a fund to erect a statue of this much respected late professor on campus. Many alumni made their donations to realize his proposal. Upon completion, the remaining NTD one million was allotted as the procurement funds for NCKU Library.

In 1998, with a deep gratitude for the education of NCKU and the instruction of several remarkable teachers, the then 76-year-old Chairman Ma decided to contribute to his alma mater. He acknowledged the long-lasting influence of NCKU education on his career achievements, and felt obligated to contribute to the university and society.

So he spoke with the then president of NCKU Zheng-Yi Wong on the phone about his intention to donate a sum of money to promote English education. In response, President Wong stated that the gentry in Tainan had promised to make donations to a language building project, and suggested that he use the donation to build a precision instrument building. Chairman Ma gladly accepted the suggestion and generously donated NT$100 million. NCKU also proposed more than NT$140 million as a matching fund for the project. This was the first building donated by an NCKU alumnus.

The construction of the new equipment building was completed in 2009. The building was named “Zhao Kun Equipment Building” in honor of Xue-Kun Ma and his wife. To date, expensive instruments have been stored in the building with an estimated value amounting to millions to tens of millions of dollars. Centralized storage of the instruments here optimizes the integration of school resources for common use by students from the Colleges of Medicine, Science, and Engineering. It not only saves management cost for the school and improves use efficiency and research results, but it also promotes interdisciplinary integration, which has an important impact on the development of academic research at NCKU.

Ma’s daughter Guan-Rong Ma spoke of her father with admiration and respect: “My father used to say that he wants to motivate others to contribute to society just as he does. A little effort from everyone can make a big difference in the world.” Undoubtedly, Xue-Kun Ma showed generosity and an entrepreneurial spirit for NCKU students to emulate and Taiwan’s society to remember. (Picture courtesy of Ma’s family.)

NCKUer |
Class |
Honors and Achievements |

Xue-Kun Ma

Mechanical Engineering, Class of 1948 (under Tainan Senior Industrial Vocational School)

・Founded Forchem International Corp. in 1951.

・Elected as the managing supervisor of TFIT in 1971.

・Elected as the director of Nan Ya Plastics Corporation in 1986.

・Received NCKU’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2007.

Xue-Kun Ma /
Mechanical Engineering, Class of 1948 (under Tainan Senior Industrial Vocational School)

・Founded Forchem International Corp. in 1951.

・Elected as the managing supervisor of TFIT in 1971.

・Elected as the director of Nan Ya Plastics Corporation in 1986.

・Received NCKU’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2007.

Department of Chemical Engineering, Class of 1952

Jer-Ru Ma

Former President of NCKU