Dr. Lilly Cheng honors the ideals of many cultures


Li-Rong Lilly Cheng is a professor in the School of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences at San Diego State University, and is also the executive director of the Chinese Study Institute and the managing director of the Confucius Institute.

Cheng served as a member of the board of trustees of the SDSU Campanile Foundation. She was the former chair of the Multicultural Issues Board for the American Speech, Language and Hearing Association (ASHA), and is the current chair of the education committee for the International Association of Logopedics and Phoniatrics.

Cheng was the past president of the International Affairs Association IALP, a related organization of ASHA.

She is also a Fellow of ASHA and the recipient of the 1997 ASHA Award for special contributions to multicultural affairs, and the recipient of the 2002 Diversity Award from the California Speech & Hearing Association.

Cheng founded the Asian Pacific Speech and Hearing Science Foundation and has written for numerous publications and has lectured all over the world on topics related to China, the Chinese language and culture.

She is recipient of the San Diego County Women’s Hall of Fame and the Asian Heritage Award. Cheng has provided volunteer clinical services worldwide.

What brought you to the area?

I drove through and fell in love with the tranquility, peace and beauty of the surroundings.

What makes this town special to you?

The people are friendly and unassuming. The surroundings are very peaceful. I just enjoy the peace and quietness of Rancho Santa Fe.

If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in the area?

I’d add a few more teahouses.

Who or what inspires you?

It’s people who give selflessly and generously; people who care about others and are committed to making the world a better place. Mother Teresa is a good example.

If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?

I would ask Mother Teresa (although I doubt if she would accept), Meryl Streep, Princess Sirindhorn of Thailand, Stephen Hawking, Leonardo Da Vinci, Amadeus Mozart, Yo-Yo Ma, and Gabriela Mistral.

Tell us about what you are currently reading.

“The Jews in China” by Pan Guang.

What is your most-prized possession?

It is an award for my humanitarian work. I received the Asian Heritage Award for providing volunteer clinical services to children and adults in Asia with speech, language and hearing disorders.

What do you do for fun?

I love to travel, read to children, and read.

Please describe your greatest accomplishment.

It is being recognized as a Fellow by the American Speech and Language and Hearing Association.

What is your motto or philosophy of life?

Excellence is a habit, not an act.