Reaching Across the Great Divide
by Ryan T. Blystone

Ken Koo ‘83 lives in Hong Kong, but USD is never far from his thoughts.

“I was in Taiwan when the basketball team played (in the NCAA Tournament in March). I stayed up all night and watched it online,” says Koo. He admits that USD’s recent success brings back his own memories of being a student.

“Basketball led me to one of my passions while I was at USD, covering athletics. One of my classmates, Marc Yaffee, encouraged me to join The Vista. I eventually took over as the sports editor of the campus newspaper.”

This fall, he’s attending his third USD reception dinner in Tokyo (to be held Nov. 13 at the International House of Japan), which is tied to President Mary Lyons’ trip for the annual Kyoto Prize ceremony. Koo — chairman and CEO of the family-owned and Hong Kong-based Tai Chong Cheang Group which owns, manages and leases ships worldwide — is building key relationships with other USD graduates in the Asian-Pacific region. He’s also taken the lead in organizing an all-Asia USD alumni reunion as part of the university’s 60th anniversary celebration in November 2009.

Koo credits Lyons for taking a proactive stance when it comes to extending USD’s international reach. “Historically, USD has focused stateside, but she’s clearly more engaged,” he says. “I think a lot of Asian-Pacific alumni graduated and got on with their lives. I think President Lyons will make it easier to get these people going (to these events).”

Koo is embracing Lyons’ internationalization initiative by conducting mini-reunions as he travels throughout Asia. He wants to establish an Asian-Pacific alumni resource network and have undergraduate and graduate students and USD alumni in the U.S. go overseas.

“USD has done well in Japan, but what I’m here to do is to raise it to the next level,” he says. “I’m really excited to give back to the school. It’s very fulfilling for me to be in touch with my alma mater again.”