Ground­break­ing held for Har­vard biz cen­ter named for a Chi­nese Amer­i­can

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHANG FAN in New York zhang­fan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

The first ed­u­ca­tion fa­cil­ity at Har­vard Univer­sity named af­ter a Chi­nese Amer­i­can is a vivid ex­am­ple of Chi­ne­seAmer­i­can’s con­tri­bu­tions to the de­vel­op­ment of United State’s so­ci­ety, Chi­nese Am­bas­sador to the US Cui Tiankai said at a ground­break­ing cer­e­mony on Thurs­day for the Ruth Mu­lan Chu Chao Cen­ter.

The late Ruth Mu­lan Chu Chao was the wife of James SiCheng Chao, and the mother of Elaine Chao, the 24th US sec­re­tary of la­bor, who, un­der for­mer pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush, was the first Amer­i­can woman of Asian de­scent ap­pointed to a pres­i­dent’s cab­i­net.

The James Si-Cheng Chao and Fam­ily Foun­da­tion do­nated $40 mil­lion to Har­vard in 2012 to build the cen­ter. It in­cludes a $5 mil­lion fel­low­ship for stu­dents of Chi­nese her­itage.

“The whole world is look­ing at the re­la­tion­ship be­tween China and the US. Though most of such at­ten­tion goes to po­lit­i­cal, se­cu­rity and eco­nomic is­sues, I per­son­ally think the foun­da­tion of this re­la­tion­ship is ac­tu­ally based on the mu­tual un­der­stand­ings be­tween the young gen­er­a­tions of the two coun­tries,” said Cui at the ground­break­ing cer­e­mony at Har­vard.

“The Ruth Mu­lan Chu Chao Cen­ter can greatly help en­hance such com­mu­ni­ca­tions and un­der­stand­ings be­tween the youth of China and the US, which is very mean­ing­ful,” Cui said, adding that the Chao Cen­ter can “in­spire young people from all over the world”.

The 90,000-square-foot ex­ec­u­tive-ed­u­ca­tion fa­cil­ity will be com­pleted in 2016. It will serve as a mul­ti­func­tion cen­ter for global stu­dents who at­tend pro­grams at the Har­vard Busi­ness School, guests and stu­dents from MBA and doc­tor­ate pro­grams at the school.

“We be­lieve this cen­ter will em­body Ruth’s spirit and be­come a dy­namic meet­ing place for mem­bers of the univer­sity com­mu­nity from all over the world, which will en­able them to bet­ter un­der­stand one an­other to build a bet­ter world,” said James S. C. Chao.

“It is fit­ting that this cam­pus will have a build­ing bear­ing the name of Ruth Mu­lan Chu Chao,” said Har­vard Pres­i­dent Drew Faust at the cer­e­mony. “What hap­pens in­side this build­ing — the ex­change of ideas, the trans­fer of knowl­edge, the broad­en­ing of minds — will be a liv­ing trib­ute to those things she and her hus­band held so dear and passed on to their daugh­ters.”

Ruth Mu­lan Chu Chao was born in 1930 in East China’s An­hui prov­ince. Her fa­ther named her in honor of the Chi­nese folk­lore hero­ine Hua Mu­lan, who joined an all-male army in place of her fa­ther. She and her hus­band moved to the US in 1961 and raised six daugh­ters. At the age of 53, she earned a mas­ter’s de­gree in Asian Lit­er­a­ture and his­tory from St. John’s Univer­sity.

Her hus­band earned a mas­ter’s de­gree in busi­ness ad­min­is­tra­tion from St. John’s Univer­sity, and es­tab­lished Fore­most Group in 1964, an in­ter­na­tional ship­ping and trad­ing com­pany, which be­came one of the largest pri­vate dry-bulk fleets in the US.

To­gether with her hus­band, she cre­ated a se­ries of char­i­ta­ble foun­da­tions, which have pro­vided more than 5,000 scholarships to stu­dents in need.

“Be­cause of their help, so many young people could have ac­cess to ed­u­ca­tion, and reach the high­est of their lives. We are all grate­ful to it. What the Chaos have done tell us again that with smart brains, we can be suc­cess­ful, but with a lov­ing and a car­ing heart, we can achieve much more,” said Cui.

“Both my par­ents come from fam­i­lies that be­lieve strongly in the value of ed­u­ca­tion. So se­cur­ing a good ed­u­ca­tion for their daugh­ters was a top pri­or­ity when my par­ents im­mi­grated to this coun­try,” said Elaine Chao.

Elaine Chao and three of her sis­ters grad­u­ated from the Har­vard Busi­ness School, mak­ing the Chao fam­ily the only one in HBS’s his­tory to have so many daugh­ters get de­grees from the school.

“We are Amer­i­cans that are so proud to be ben­e­fi­cia­ries of two cul­tures,” said Elaine Chao at the cer­e­mony, adding that the Har­vard Univer­sity help to “equipped” them the tools in “fac­ing the rapidly chang­ing so­ci­ety”.

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LIU ZHONGHUA / FOR CHINA DAILY

Cui Tiankai (sec­ond from right), Chi­nese am­bas­sador to the US, with Drew Faust, pres­i­dent of Har­vard Univer­sity (fifth from left), the Chao fam­ily and other guests at the ground­break­ing cer­e­mony for the Ruth Mu­lan Chu Chao Cen­ter at the Har­vard Busi­ness School in Bos­ton on Thurs­day.

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