This spring, Vincent Wang’s schedule changed quite a bit.

For the first time in 18 years, he isn’t teaching. Instead he serves as one of three recently appointed associate deans of the School of Arts and Sciences.

“I care a lot about the quality of governance at the University,” Wang says. “When we were graduate students or young faculty, we were so busy that we did not realize that the quality of management was actually very important.”

Wang comes to the dean’s office from a four-year stint chairing the University’s political science department. The move represents his interest in gaining experience and perspective on all aspects of Richmond’s governance, a spirit of curiosity that has propelled him into several leadership roles since he arrived on campus in 1996.

“My position — international politics with a focus on Asia — was actually created as a program improvement.” Wang explains. “I was a beneficiary of the University’s vision and expansion.”

The University attracted him because of the emphasis placed on undergraduate teaching and the close proximity to Washington, D.C., a main stage of world politics.

Wang’s interest in international politics made him a natural choice to co-chair the University’s strategic plan for internationalization. He’s helped sign three study abroad partnerships and now he serves as the dean’s liaison to the Office of International Education. Part of his role includes helping to bring international faculty to campus to teach and give guest lectures. In 2005, he pioneered one of the Richmond’s earliest intellectual alternatives to spring break by taking a group of 14 students to visit Richmond’s partner universities in Hong Kong and his homeland of Taiwan.

In his new administrative role, Wang still finds time to contribute his expertise on Taiwan to journals and conferences. Recently he served as a discussion leader and presented two papers at the International Studies Association. He also lured the association to host its annual conference at Richmond in 2014.

In January, the Taiwanese government invited Wang to be part of the international delegation selected to observe the country’s elections.

“This election is unique because it has international implications,” Wang explains. “The choices the voters in Taiwan collectively make may portend implications on the important cross-strait relations between mainland China and Taiwan.”

While in Taiwan, Wang converged with other scholars and journalists. He attended political rallies, visited campaign headquarters and talked with both officials and ordinary people to get a sense of Taiwan’s democracy at work.

“It was generally a very moving experience,” describes Wang. “That’s why we were invited — to observe the very orderly, smooth exercise of democracy. And some aspects of democracy really provide valuable lessons to Americans.”

Although he misses working directly with students, Wang uses the time he’s not grading to continue research that he hopes will give academic grounding to popular discourses on Asian political power.

“That’s my main area of research interest,” Wang says. “Not only in terms of the economic dynamism of that populous region, but also the political diversity and security challenges to Americans. In a nutshell, no American can afford not to study Asia.”