Community Advisory Board

The charge to the Advisory Board is to enhance the outreach and effectiveness of the Texas A&M University Confucius Institute by advising the Director and management committee of the Confucius Institute. The board will provide feedback on the mission, goals, and direction of the Confucius Institute. The ultimate vision is to create, maintain and continually improve a high-quality program that succeeds in establishing the Texas A&M Confucius Institute as a critical resource for the citizens of the state of Texas in interaction with China. Specifically, Advisory Board members will:

  • Serve as liaisons with community groups, non-governmental organizations, and governmental bodies;
  • Provide suggestions regarding Texas A&M Confucius Institute programs, policies and resources;
  • Review and provide recommendations for programming, new initiatives, and opportunities;
  • Assist in developing sponsorship and funding opportunities for the Confucius Institute.


Board Members

Eric has a diverse background in technology commercialization: consulting, financial services, entrepreneurship, product development, and basic research. He is a Co-CEO of PBM Corporation, a company developing novel biomaterials and drug delivery products. He is also the president of Novomedics, a women’s health medical device company and a client company of the Houston Technology Center. Eric is part of the Boss Group, a Houston based private equity firm that focuses on medical related and energy services opportunities.

Previously, Eric was an investment banker with Stonebridge Associates, LLC providing private placement and corporate finance advisory to technology and healthcare product companies. He also spearheaded the Investor Network at the Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology – a medical consortium of MIT, Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Draper Laboratory. Eric co-founded Accunostic – a biotechnology startup that developed technologies for molecular diagnostics by detecting nucleic acid based microbial signatures. Eric has business, process and product development experience in minimally invasive devices and medical optics with Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and Bausch & Lomb.

Eric is an inventor of four U.S. patents with three additional patent applications pending. He has authored and co-authored over 25 peer-reviewed and conference proceeding papers. He holds a MBA degree from MIT-Sloan School of Management, a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin, MS and BS in Optics from the University of Rochester.

Eric serves on the board of Texas A&M University International Program. He is the past-president of the MIT Club of South Texas. Formerly, Eric served on the Board of MIT Club of Boston. He is a member of IEEE and a former director of the American Society of Laser Medicine & Surgery (ASLMS). At J&J, he was a founding member of the Corporate Office of Science and Technology Biomedical Optics Committee.

Regional Director - Asia/Pacific, Office of the Governor, Economic Development & Tourism
James Chen joined the Office of the Governor, Economic Development and Tourism division as Regional Director-Asia/Pacific in 2006. His role is to help Texas companies do business in Asia/Pacific region and recruit foreign companies from Asia/Pacific to invest in Texas. Prior to this position, he had various experiences in real estate investment and information technology. James Chen holds an MBA from Duke University and a Bachelor of Science degree from China.

Roman Popadiuk assumed the duties of Executive Director of the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation in January, 1999. Dr. Popadiuk served as Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Press Secretary for Foreign Affairs under President George Bush. He served as the first U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine in 1992-1993. Dr. Popadiuk, a retired member of the career Senior Foreign Service, has received a number of awards, including the State Department’s Superior Honor Award and the Meritorious Honor Award.

Dr. Popadiuk is co-authoring a study of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB) which is scheduled to be completed in 2007. His writings on Ukraine have appeared in The Ukrainian Quarterly, The Foreign Service Journal, Mediterranean Quarterly, and Presidential Studies Quarterly. He is also the author of American-Ukrainian Nuclear Relations, a monograph published by the National Defense University. He is often interviewed on the status of U.S.-Ukraine relations and the situation in Ukraine. In 2006 he served as an observer of the parliamentary elections in Ukraine. He currently serves as the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the biennial U.S.-China Relations Conference at Texas A&M University.

Dr. Popadiuk is married to the former Judith Ann Fedkiw. They have four children. Dr. Popadiuk graduated from Hunter College (B.A., 1973) and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (Ph.D., 1981).

Rick Younts ’67 is currently serving as a private consultant on Asian affairs, specializing in China. In November of 2001, Younts retired from Motorola after 34 years of service. His home in Austin, Texas serves as his office for his business activities.

He joined Motorola’s semiconductor division in Phoenix, Arizona, in 1967. After several years of advancement within that division, he was appointed to operations manager of the rectifier businesses in 1974. In 1979, he moved to the semiconductor group’s MOS division in Austin as the group operation manager of logic and special functions. In 1982, he was appointed vice president of Motorola and director of operations for the MOS Memory Group in Austin.

In 1984, Younts moved to Japan as vice president and GM of the semiconductor division of Nippon Motorola Ltd. Three years later, he was made an elected vice president and president of Nippon Motorola, Ltd. Younts returned to the U.S. in 1991 to serve as executive president and executive director for the Asia and Americas Regions. In 1997, he was named as president of the Asia Pacific regions and appointed to serve on the management board of Motorola Inc. Today, Younts serves on a few boards and as an advisor to the City of Tianjin, China. In 2001, he was given an honorary citizenship of China and recently he was awarded the 2006 Distinguished Alumnus Award by the Association of Former Students and Texas A&M University.

Dr. Shirley J. Neeley was named the Texas commissioner of education on January 12, 2004 by Governor Rick Perry. As commissioner, she served as the head of the Texas Education Agency, which oversaw 1,037 school districts and about 200 charter schools.

A former elementary school teacher, assistant principal and principal, Dr. Neeley served as superintendent of Galena Park Independent School District, Texas’ largest exemplary district from 2002-2004. A product of Galena Park ISD, Dr. Neeley received her doctorate in curriculum and instruction from the University of Houston.

As superintendent of Galena Park ISD, Dr. Neeley embraced accountability and demanded that principals, assistant principals, teachers and the entire district focus on keeping “the main thing the main thing” – student performance. In Galena Park, a district with a student population that is 70 percent economically disadvantaged and 90 percent minority, that meant accepting no excuses and focusing every day on every child that walked through the doors of every school.

A former president of the Texas Association of Suburban and Mid-Urban Schools, Dr. Neeley also served on the Board of the Harris County Youth Program, the Texas Academic Decathlon and as chair of her local hospital Board of Directors. Dr. Neeley has also served as president of her local Rotary Club and on the Board of Directors of the North Channel Area Chamber of Commerce. Neeley is a life member of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and has served as a committee member for twelve years.

Dr. Neeley was named Texas Association of School Boards’ Superintendent of the Year in the fall of 2003. She was inducted into the prestigious Texas Women’s Hall of Fame in October, 2006. Dr. Neeley retired on September 1, 2007, after 35 years in public education. She and her husband, Bill Richardson, are enjoying time traveling, riding their Harley’s, ranching and enjoying life to the fullest!


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