Sung-Mo “Steve” Kang was born and raised in Seoul, Korea. Kang is the first in his family to attend college. Kang’s grandfather, who have fought for Korean independence and experienced Japanese occupation, helped him to immigrate to the U.S. and study electrical engineering to become a college professor. As a distinguished scholar and a leader in engineering education, Kang has gone beyond this dream.
Kang received his B.S. from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 1970, his M.S. from State University of New York at Buffalo in 1972 and his Ph.D. from University of California at Berkeley in 1975. All his academic degrees are in electrical engineering.
After his graduation, he has taught at various universities in the U.S., Germany and Switzerland, and worked as a technician and supervisor at AT&T Bell Laboratories in New Jersey. He was a visiting professor at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, the University of Karlsruhe and the Technical University of Munich, and a Chaired Visiting Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science of Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). He has also taught at Rutgers University.
Dr. Kang joined the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as an associate professor electrical and computer engineering in 1985, and was promoted to professor in 1990. From 1995 to 2000, Dr. Kang served as the head of the electrical and computer engineering department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; he was the first department head of foreign origin in 110 years. He was honored as the first Charles Marshall Senior University Scholar and directed several research organizations.
From 2001 to 2007, Kang served as dean of the Baskin School of Engineering at UC Santa Cruz. During this time, Kang brought the Baskin School from infancy to its current standing as a well-regarded graduate school of engineering. Since taking the position in 2001, he doubled the size of the faculty, recruiting the highest caliber professors and researchers to the growing school. Federal research funding increased four-fold during Kang’s tenure, from $5 million to $20 million, and the school’s scholarship fund has grown by tenfold. In his six years as dean of engineering, he took a nascent program to significantly higher levels of achievement during its second phase of development.
In 2007, Dr. Kang became the second chancellor of the University of California, Merced; he also teaches at the school of engineering as a professor.