Faculty Spotlight – Tom Plate

What’s your role at the university?
I’m here as a clinical professor focusing on international news media, Asia, particularly China, and, I guess, as a person to expand [the university’s] profile internationally.

How long have you been at LMU?
A half dozen years.

What has been your proudest moment since you’ve been at LMU?
When I first realized Asian Media International was sticking. And if I may give two others – when we organized to host [former UN Secretary-General] Ban Ki-moon, and when Thaksin [Shinawatra, former Thai prime minister] came.

What do you enjoy most about your role at the university?
Being with the students.

Before working at LMU, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve had?
When I was 19 or 20, I was hired at the UN Secretariat. I was in way over my head, under-qualified … that I can say was unusual for me.

What was the name of the last book you read?
Well I’m re-reading “The Quiet American” by Graham Greene.

What would be the title of your (second) autobiography?
I already wrote “Confessions of an American Media Man,” but I’m thinking right now of a way to write “Confessions of an American University Professor.”

If you had to eat one meal every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I can’t say what it’d really be, so I’ll go with tomato soup.

If you could enjoy dinner and conversation with anyone in history, who would it be and why?
Deng Xiaoping, he totally transformed China.

Who is the most intriguing person you’ve interviewed and why?
[Then-Minister Mentor of Singapore] Lee Kuan Yew. He was hard-headed, analytical, straight with me … I think he raised issues about democracy and governance that need to be raised. If I may add, the two nicest people I’ve ever interviewed would have to be John Major, prior prime minister of the United Kingdom, and Ban Ki-moon.

When you’re away from work, what is your favorite thing to do?
Rest with all three cats in my arms and comfort my wife, who worked, until recently, 15 years in Veterans’ Administration.

Tell us something interesting about yourself that others may not know.
I don’t use gel; the hair just sticks up. But really, I try never to think ill of people, I’m a fallen Catholic … there’s more, I’m sure.