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Connecticut College professor is at the center of the student-athlete experience

By Gary Brown

The most notable thing about Connecticut College Faculty Athletics Representative Stan Ching is his smile. The guy’s always wearing one – usually a bright, genuine, enameled version.

He’s also usually wearing a short-sleeved shirt … but we’ll get to that later.

Connecticut College FAR Stan Ching has a strong bond with the institution's athletics programs.

If you talk with him about how he got to where he is, the next thing you’ll notice is his humility.

For example, on his being admitted to Pomona College despite what he thought were low SAT scores, Ching said, “Still one of the great mysteries in my life.”

On what athletics directors in the New England Small College Athletic Conference thought of him during a year in which he was – upon unusual circumstances – an interim AD: “I think they were pretty amused.”

On receiving a call from the Division III Nominating Committee about what he thought was an endorsement for an award-winning colleague but was actually a request for him to serve on the Management Council: “OK, why me?”

But when it’s all said and done, why not Ching? There’s nothing not to like about the chemistry professor and volleyball enthusiast from Hawaii. The man not only knows chemistry as a science but also as a human condition.

Ching’s bond with athletics is a case in point. After joining the faculty at Connecticut College in 1990, Ching began attending women’s volleyball games, partly because that was among the many sports he enjoyed playing as a kid. He often sat alongside the AD at the time, who wasn’t as familiar with the sport, and Ching’s expertise began to rub off on him.

Armed with only a part-time coach, the players yearned for an assistant. The AD acquiesced by asking Ching to chip in, which he did for six years under three head coaches.

That experience came in handy during an administrative shake-up in 2002-03 that left the AD spot vacant. While the search was being conducted, the college asked Ching to serve as the interim, which also meant chairing the physical education department.

And as chance would have it, Connecticut College was the chair institution for the conference that year, so Ching chaired all the AD meetings (which also included senior woman administrators) and sat in on the presidents meetings. 

Even though Ching isn’t naturally drawn to the limelight, he had to take the stage in his new role.

“As much as I don’t seek to be high visibility, when I became the interim AD, I thought that in order to do it well I hadto be highly visible,” he said. “So I met with everyone on campus who I thought had a bearing on athletics. The way I approached it was saying, ‘This is my job; tell me about your job and ways in which we can help each other.’ ”

His skillful navigation of those uncharted waters didn’t persuade him to leave his teaching roots, though.

“The reason everything worked out that year is because of all the help I received from everywhere from physical plant to the administration – and obviously the department was very helpful,” Ching said. “I told them, ‘What I want you to do this year is do your job – coach well, teach well, and let me deal with all the distractions. I appreciated all the help that came in campus-wide. None of it would have worked without that.”

Now Ching is firmly back in the classroom, though still interested in athletics – and certainly understanding of student-athlete needs, given the perspectives he has experienced.

As for the short-sleeved shirts? Well, Ching is from Hawaii, after all, and has a battery of colorful tops. Even though his educational and professional journey took him through Chicago and landed him in New London, Conn., he has found that he can adapt to the cold.

“You need some color in the winter, too,” Ching said.

Still, one of his students wrote on an evaluation, “Doesn’t this guy have any long-sleeved shirts?”

If he did, Ching most certainly would roll up the sleeves and get to work, smiling all the while.


Stan Ching bio

Position: Faculty athletics rep at Connecticut College; chair of the chemistry department.

Previous positions: Chair of the college’s executive committee of the faculty; volunteer assistant coach for women’s volleyball, 1992-98; chair of the planning committee for the college’s new fitness center and multipurpose exercise facilities, which opened in 2009; served as interim director of athletics and chair of physical education in 2002-03.

Education: B.A. from Pomona College in 1984 and Ph.D. from Northwestern in 1988.

What you didn’t know: Ching’s nomination to the Division III Management Council took him by surprise. “I always think that way because I know there are a lot of great people out there,” he said. “But I’m always willing to help, and as long as there are people who think it’s worth having me around, then I’m fine with that. The thing about being on the Council or working with a group outside of your area of expertise is that you get to be around a lot of smart, interesting people, and I like that.”