Harvard University President Drew Faust (L) speaks at the inaugural ceremony of the Ruth Mulan Chu Chao Center in Harvard Business School in Boston, Massachusetts, the United States, June 6, 2016. (Xinhua/Li Changxiang)
CAMBRIDGE, the United States, June 6 (Xinhua) -- Harvard Business School (HBS) inaugurated on Monday the Ruth Mulan Chu Chao Center, the first ever building named after a Chinese American on Harvard campus in the Ivy League school's 380-year history.
Built with a donation of 40 million U.S. dollars from the Dr. James Si-Cheng Chao family foundation back in 2012, the center honors the memory of Chao's late wife and recognizes her life-long dedication to education and female empowerment.
"We gather to celebrate a woman who understood the importance of education, and celebrate a family elevated by her commitment, and themselves," Harvard University President Drew Faust told a grand dedication ceremony that attracted heavyweight guests including U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senator Elizabeth Warren and Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker.
The three-story, 90,000-square-feet (some 8,300 square meters) center was designed mainly for the training of corporate executives at HBS. It features gathering spaces, academic classrooms and dining facilities, all open to the school's Executive Education participants and students in the MBA and Doctoral Programs.
With Monday's launch, the Chao Center, also the first on HBS campus ever named after a woman, joins other school facilities bearing the names of prominent donors, such as the Chase Building, the Bloomberg Center and the Baker Library.
Braving the early summer sun, Dr. Chao, a shipping industry magnate and philanthropist from New York who is now in his late 80s, sat through the outdoor ceremony along with his five daughters, among whom the eldest, Elaine Chao, was the 24th U.S. Secretary of Labor from 2001 to 2009 and the first Asian American woman to hold a cabinet position in history.
"When my parents relocated in America, a key element that helped them to not only survive but thrive was their education," said Elaine Chao. "That is why they devoted so much of their philanthropy to helping others access education."
And the Chaos had a very close connection with Harvard, as four of the six daughters in the family including Elaine attended HBS.
"Four daughters honoring their mother, four daughters went to Harvard Business School. To mark this moment reminded ourselves that only 50 years ago it was the first time that we admitted women into the Harvard Business School," said Nitin Nohria, the HBS dean.
Besides the Chao Center, the Chao family donation also includes 5 million dollars for a fellowship fund to provide financial assistance to students of Chinese heritage.
In an early interview with Xinhua, Dr. Chao said he hoped that the fellowship could help qualified Chinese students who couldn't afford the tuition to have a chance to study in a top university like Harvard, and that those beneficiaries could help promote U.S.-China relations in the future.
According to a Chao family statement, the five living presidents of the United States, from Jimmy Carter to Barack Obama, all sent in congratulatory messages for the Chao Center's inauguration.