In the context of globalization and a focus on the cooperation between the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) and its counterparts in Taiwan and China, the
Bayou Connection Program is a grass-roots initiative. After joining the Department of Criminal Justice (now the Department of Criminal Justice and Social Work) in 2001, Dr. Wang with the support of Dr. Beth Pelz, (former chair of the Department of Criminal Justice), organized the first UHD delegation to Taiwan in December 2002. The delegation was led by Dr. Michael Dressman, (former dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences). This trip resulted in the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to serve as an academic compact between the National Chung-Cheng University (CCU) and the University of Houston-Downtown. Per this agreement, two Taiwanese students participated in a newly developed graduate program in security management at UHD in the fall of 2004.
In August 2005, a delegation from the
Central Police University (CPU) came to UHD in order to discuss future plans between CPU and UHD. Under the leadership of the
Bayou Connection Program. Dr. Max Castillo, the President of the UHD, and Dr. Ui-An Lo, the Vice President of the CPU, jointly signed an MOU between CPU and UHD. In November 2005, Dr. Wang organized another UHD delegation led by Dr. Castillo to Taiwan. This trip not only strengthened the relationship between UHD and its counterparts in Taiwan but also established the relationship with Dr. Yung-Fa Chang, the chairman of Evergreen Corp. in Taiwan. From 2005 - 2010, Dr. Chang donated $200,000 to UHD. In addition, other donations in the amount of $20,000 from the local Chinese/Taiwanese community were also gifted to UHD. These monetary gifts were used to provide scholarships for Taiwanese students studying at UHD.
In November 2010, the Taiwan Economic Cultural Office (TECO) - Houston Education Division, arranged for UHD's new President Dr. William Flores to receive an official invitation to visit Taiwan. However, President Flores' health prevented him from attending. Therefore, the third UHD delegation to Taiwan was led by Dr. Dressman. This trip resulted in a new partnership with the
National Tainan University. Moreover, a commitment of $2,000,000 endowment was presented by Dr. Chang to UHD.
Dr. Chang's two-million charity established an endowment for "students-in-need" at UHD in May 2011. Eight recipients received $4,000 each in May 2012. To date, UHD has awarded the Chang Yung-fa Foundation scholarship to 56 outstanding students, and a total of 36 Chang Scholars have graduated from UHD. Dr. Wang is responsible for conducting home visits of scholarship applicants with respect to Dr. Chang's wish. A home visit is a challenging task. Dr. Wang with the help of his wife, who serves as a
Bayou Connection Program volunteer, visit each candidate across the greater Houston area each summer. Dr. Chang passed away in 2016; however, Dr. Wang and his wife continue the home visits in memory of Dr. Chang and his unselfish love for UHD and its students. As such, Ms. Demie Chung, Executive Director of Chang Yung-Fa Foundation, wrote a letter (December 6, 2017) to UHD to recognize Dr. Wang's efforts, stating her appreciation for the time and effort he has "... put into our scholarship distribution so smoothly every year since 2012."
In June 2012, Dr. Wang organized the fourth UHD Delegation to Taiwan led by Dr. Flores. This trip resulted in two more sister schools in Taiwan,
Ming Chuan University, and
Chung Hua University agreeing to send students to UHD. On March 7, 2013, the TECO Director of General Liao gave a presentation entitled "Understanding Taiwan" in the UHD Auditorium. Liao's presentation discussed the importance of moving forward by invigorating old partnerships and opening doors for new ones. Liao's speech emphasized the importance of Taiwanese students to have the availability to study at UHD and how cross-cultural partnerships give new life to al involved. In 2017, Dr. Wang asked Dr. Judith Harris to serve as the assistant director of the
Bayou Connection Program.
To date, the
Bayou Connection Program has made the following significant achievements:
- Graduate Studies: Since Fall 2004, twelve Taiwanese students have earned their MSM or MSCJ degrees from UHD. Two moved on to doctoral programs (one of them presently is an associate professor at CPU while the other is an assistant professor at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire), two are teaching at colleges in Taiwan, while four have received promotions in Taiwanese law enforcement agencies.
- English Study: Since Spring 2007, more than 250 CPU students, in 12 groups, studied English at the English Language Institute (ELI). They also visited various criminal justice agencies in Houston.
- Law Enforcement Study: A group of 40 CPU students led by two policing professors (January 2018) studied at the UHD Criminal Justice Training Center. They were able to visit various criminal justice agencies in Houston.
- Study Abroad: Since Summer 2005, 40 UHD students, in two groups, have visited Taiwan to learn about the criminal justice system from a comparative perspective. Recently, two groups of UHD students led by Dr. Sample visited Taiwan in 2012 and 2016, respectively.
- In 2006-7, Dr. Wang served as exchange faculty at the CPU while two CPU professors taught at UHD in Fall 2006 and Spring 2007, respectively.
- In May 2008, one CPU professor visited UHD for one semester.
- Mr. Hsien-Ya Wang, an internationally renowned artist, was invited to present a lecture entitled "Sharing the Joy of Chinese Landscape Painting" to UHD students, staff, and faculty in the fall of 2003, and exhibited his artworks at the O'Kane Gallery in Fall 2004.
- UHD hosted a group of youth ambassadors from Taiwan who shared traditional Taiwanese life and the cultural difference between Taiwan and the West in Fall 2013.
- On October 2, 2015, UHD hosted the Taiwan-Texas Higher Education Forum, in which more than 40 scholars from various universities in Taiwan and Texas exchanged ideas of higher education cooperation in the 21st century.
- In November 2003, Dr. Mark Kellar was invited to make a presentation on jail management in the International Conference on Crime and Preventive Strategies, hosted by the CCU, in Chiayi, Taiwan.
- In March-April 2005, four special agents of the Ministry of Justice, Investigation Bureau (MJIB), co-sponsored by the Department of Criminal Justice, completed a two-week internship at the Houston Police Department.
- In August 2005, two CPU faculty presented their research papers at the International Security Management Conference at UHD.
- In November 2005, Dr. Beth McConnel was invited to make a presentation in American corrections in the International Conference on Crime and Preventive Strategies, hosted by the CCU, in Taichung, Taiwan.
- In November 2005, Dr. Clete Snell was invited to make a presentation in forensic lab management in the International Forensic Science Symposium, hosted by the MJIB, in Taipei, Taiwan.
- In 2008, Dr. Wang, co-authored with Yung-Lien Lai, published an article entitled "The safety satisfaction survey on the work environment of correctional institution in Taiwan" [text in Chinese],
Police Science Bimonthly, 38(4), 17-32.
- In 2013, Dr. Wang, co-authored with Dr. T.E. Chan, published an article entitled "The Exploration of using TASER in Taiwan police: Takes the United States as an example" [text in Chinese],
Ming Chuan Journal of Social Sciences, Vol. 5, 33-62.
- In 2016, Dr. Harris was invited to teach criminology at Zhejiam Police College, Hangzhou, China.
- In November 2017, Dr. Wang was invited to teach criminology at Shanghai Police College, Shanghai, China.