Made Generous Donation to His Alma Mater

/ Xue-Kun Ma / founder of Forchem International Corp

Situated on the Tzuchiang Campus, the Zhao Kun Precision Instruments Building is funded by Xue-Kun Ma, an alumnus who graduated in the Japanese colonial ruling period when the Dept. of Mechanical Engineering was just in its ninth year. As a high-achiever in class and among the first few entrepreneurs after leaving college, Xue-Kun Ma started his career in the petrochemical industry and built very successful company in the years that followed. His generous donation to his alma later perfectly showed an entrepreneurial spirit—a selfless contribution to the students and local communities.

Found a Great Mentor in Prof. Bo-Seng Lim

In 1923, Chairman Ma was born in the old Dadaocheng area in Taipei under Japanese colonial rule. After he had passed the entrance exam for Tainan Senior Industrial Vocational School (currently NCKU) and decided to take a major in mechanics, he found himself among less than ten Taiwanese students in a class of 65, where Japanese students were more privileged in many ways. He made up his mind to study harder.
At that time, 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 hired 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 interested students, and Xue-Kun Ma was one of them. When Ma sat in the classroom listening to lectures given by Prof. Lim about philosophy and religious views, he felt immensely inspired by the lecture as if he was shone over by a ray of light.

As a summa cum laude graduate, Xue-Kun Ma had initially wanted to pursue advanced studies in Japan, yet the Pacific War disrupted his plan. He stayed in Taiwan and accepted a job referred by 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 war ended, the Japanese government lost control of Taiwan, and the oil farms were taken over by the KMT government. He seriously considered starting his own business.

Selflessly Helping Taiwanese-based Petrochemical Plants to Share Experience with Plants in Other Countries

In 1951, Ma founded Forchem International Corp. for distribution and sales of petrochemical products in Taiwan. Shortly after the company was founded, he bought a huge amount of English and Japanese books and subscribed international magazines in order to help employees learn chemical compounds and chemistry formulas. Around that time, Taiwan’s manufacturing industry was in the onset phase of development. Chairman Ma was enthusiastic about introducing knowledge and helping competitors to solve problems. He was unsurprisingly nicknamed as “Professor Ma” by industry insiders.

Chairman Ma used to say to 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 had been dedicated to facilitating technology exchange between Taiwanese-based petrochemical plants and those based in Europe, Japan, and the United States. This has won him a reputation within the industry. Since 1970, he began to be actively involved in Rotary by helping to facilitate Rotary Club activities around the world. Former Chairman Ma was a trustworthy entrepreneur who started small yet achieved great things during his lifetime.

Expressed Deep Gratitude by Donation to His Alma Mater

One day, Ma read a news report about his mentor Prof. Bo-Seng Lim’s 100th birthday and immediately took action to raise a fund to erect a statue of this much respected late professor on campus. Many alumni made their donations to make this happen, and the remaining NTD one million was reallotted to the library.

In 1998, the then 76-year-old Chairman Ma thought it the time to contribute to society by giving back to the alma mater, where he learned a lot from a number of remarkable teachers.

He gave a call to the university, speaking with the then president of NCKU Zheng-Yi Wong about his intention to donate to a project that promotes English education. Ma was told that the gentry in Tainan had already promised to build a new language building and was encouraged to give a sum for the construction of an instrumentation equipment building. Ma gladly accepted this request and without hesitation, he generously gave NTD 100 million to help the university to fill the monetary gap and build the equipment building. This was the first time an alumnus helped to build a building for NCKU.

This new equipment building was completed construction in 2009. The building was named “Zhao Kun Equipment Building” to honor Xue-Kun Ma and his wife. To store all the expensive equipment and devices are stored in the building allows students of the colleges of medicine, engineering, and science greater leeway to use scientific equipment, achieve better user efficiency, yield more satisfactory research results that are collaborated across different fields, ultimately helping to increase NCKU’s research capacity.

Ma’s daughter Guan-Rong Ma speaks 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 by courtesy of Ma’s family.)

NCKUer |
Class |
Achievements and Honors |

Xue-Kun Ma

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

・Founded Forchem International 1951.

・Elected as the managing supervisor of TFIT in 1971.

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

・Awarded NCKU’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2007.

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

・Founded Forchem International 1951.

・Elected as the managing supervisor of TFIT in 1971.

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

・Awarded NCKU’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2007.

Department of Chemical Engineering, Class of 1952

Jer-Ru Maa

Former President of NCKU