Remarks Prepared for Delivery by The Honorable Elaine L. Chao Representing Dr. James S.C. Chao and Family at the Groundbreaking Ceremony for the Ruth Mulan Chu Chao Center

April 24, 2014

Thank you President Faust, Dean Nohria, Senator Markey, Prime Minister Rudd, Ambassador Cui, members of the Harvard community, and distinguished guests.

On behalf of my father, Dr. James S.C. Chao, my sisters, May Chao, Christine Chao, Grace Chao, Angela Chao, our husbands, Leader Mitch McConnell, Jeff Hwang, Gordon Hartogensis, Jim Breyer, grandchildren, Ben Shaver, Alexia Hartogensis, Penelope Hartogensis, Miranda Mei Chao Hwang and Jessica Ruth Chao Hwang and my mother’s family, Aunt Chang, Uncle James Chu, Aunt Bess Tieh, Dr. June Chu, and relatives Mrs. Wendy Chu and her family, we want to thank you for joining us today for the ground breaking ceremony for the Ruth Mulan Chu Chao Center.

This is a very special day for the University, for my father, Dr. James S.C. Chao, and our family.  Since my mother left on August 2, 2007, my father has worked to memorialize the life and legacy of his beloved wife and our mother – Ruth Mulan Chu Chao—whose love of learning was a key factor in our lives.  Among the ways was to give back to the Harvard community that welcomed six members of our family, and helped equip us with the tools to face the challenges of today’s rapidly changing world.  With this ground breaking ceremony, we initiate the next step in making a reality of our father’s vision of a Ruth Mulan Chu Chao Center dedicated to inspiring others.

As you’ve heard, both my parents come from families in China that believed 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.  Despite the fact that immigrating meant a three-year separation, my mother wholeheartedly supported my father’s decision.  Mother’s grace, resilience, love and resolve held us together during difficult times.  Without her, none of us would be where we are today. That’s why we are so proud and so grateful to be here, honoring her memory and sharing her life and legacy with others.  She is with us in spirit, as she is every day, inspiring us to do our best and to help others realize their dreams.

Sometimes I am asked how my parents were able to achieve so much, when they lived in such a tumultuous era and faced so many daunting challenges. They did not set out to make money.  They held to the ancient ideal—learned from their own parents—that each person’s first responsibility is to do his or her best at each task during life.  From that, a ripple effect of positive change is created.

That’s how you change the world for the better, one person at a time.  So by living this ideal throughout their lives, my parents’ primary goal has always been to make the world a better place for others.

It is our hope that this center will create a ripple of positive change by cultivating better leaders, leaders of conscience, one person at a time.  As you know, we live in an increasingly globalized world, where we are increasingly interconnected.  The challenges that touch one community often touch us all.  So it is more important than ever before to understand the perspective of others, and to build a global community of leaders with a shared commitment to principled leadership and service.  The Ruth Mulan Chu Chao Center will be a gateway for this kind of exchange—a place to learn, to build bridges of understanding, and to share best practices.  It is an exciting undertaking, and my family is humbled to be the catalyst for this expansive vision of Dean Nohria.  It is also our hope that this center will make a contribution to fulfilling President Faust’s vision of Harvard as an institution that cultivates the “habits of a restless mind that yield our deepest understanding.”  And that it will contribute to the goal of creating an environment that not only imparts information, but helps imbue that information with meaning that creates value for others.

So thank you for being with us today, and for helping us honor Ruth Mulan Chu Chao’s legacy of faith, family and philanthropy.
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