The legacy of Ruth Mulan Chu Chao to live on for generations

On June 6, 2016, the Harvard Business School (HBS) campus came alive as a large delegation of leaders in academia, government, and the business community joined members of the Chao family to inaugurate the Ruth Mulan Chu Chao Center—an edifice to stand in honor of its namesake and to serve as an inspiration to the thousands of students and emerging global leaders who will pass through its doors. The modern, 90,000 square feet facility, funded by Dr. James S.C. Chao and Chao Family Foundations, will serve as a hub for the HBS Executive Education Program campus.

Ruth Mulan Chu Chao, late and beloved wife of Dr. James S.C. Chao, was a passionate advocate of education as the pathway to success in life. Mother to six daughters, four of whom attended Harvard Business School, she imbued her family with the strength she gained from life’s early challenges, her humble yet determined spirit, and her vision for a synergistic world where the exchange and sharing of ideas transcend international boundaries. Her gifts to her daughters, to the Asian-American community and to the world at large were eloquently expressed by her daughters, Elaine Chao (Secretary of Labor 2001-2009), May Chao, Christine Chao, Grace Chao and youngest daughter Angela Chao, Deputy Chairman of Foremost Group Angela Chao.

The Ruth Mulan Chu Chao Center is the first building on the Harvard University campus to be named after a woman or after an Asian-American; a suitable milestone for a memorial to one of the best-known and respected Chinese-American families. Among the speakers at the dedication was HBS Dean Nitin Nohria, who said that in order for learning to be truly transformative, human interaction is necessary, a process that will be beautifully supported by the new Center. Beautiful tributes and remarks were also made by President of Harvard University, Dr. Drew Faust, Governor Charlie Baker, US Senator Ed Markey (MA), US Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA). Secretary Elaine Chao noted that the building will stand as a living testament to her mother’s belief in the transformative powers of education. Angela Chao added that she hopes everyone who enters the Center will be inspired by her mother’s vision of mutual respect and understanding between peoples, thus leaving with a commitment to reach for new solutions to the complex challenges facing the world today.