Secretary Elaine Chao


Remarks Prepared for the Honorable Elaine L. Chao for the Harvard Business School Washington, D. C. Campaign Launch

Welcome, everyone.  Thanks so much for coming!  It’s wonderful to have such a great turn out tonight of the Washington, D. C. Harvard Business School community. 

That video struck a cord, didn’t it?!    Harvard Business School has been a huge part of each of our life stories.  That is certainly true for my family and me. 

As you may have heard, my father, Dr. James S. C. Chao, was honored to be able to help HBS realize its vision to expand the Executive Education Program through the construction of the Ruth Mulan Chu Chao Center, soon to be completed in June 2016.

This will be the first building named after a woman, and a person with a Chinese surname.  Over 10,000 executives will participate in courses every year, many from overseas.  My father hopes the Ruth Mulan Chu Chao Center will be a vibrant hub where future leaders of integrity and principle who will better understand the international environment in which we live and work are developed so they can build a better world of greater opportunities and prosperity for everyone. 

My father was humbled to make this gift because he believed in Dean Nohria’s vision.  He wanted to show his and my mother’s gratitude to HBS for educating four of their daughters and he wanted to pay tribute to my mother’s life and legacy because their life journey together is a true love story that he hopes will motivate others. 

My parents are Americans of Chinese heritage who came of age in the tumultuous early 20th century China.  They experienced great hardships and saw their country torn apart by successive wars, foreign invasions, and domestic upheaval.  Yet, they never lost their sense of optimism or hope.  They were sustained by their love for one another and their confidence in a better future ahead. 

Through their many transitions—from China to Taiwan, from Taiwan to America—establishing a new life each time with no help from family or friends, they found one asset that enabled them to adapt and forge ahead:  and that was their education.  The Ruth Mulan Chu and James S. C. Chao Family Fellowship Fund that he established is also meant to help students access the education they need to become better leaders….that is my family’s story. 

Each of you in this room have your own story, your own passion about an issue….You are here because you obviously care about Harvard Business School.  This campaign is about what lies ahead for our alma mater, its future students, and the contributions that we alumni can make to this future.  Each of you, in your own way, can make a difference and shape the future of Harvard Business School and its impact on our rapidly changing world.  We need your help, your ideas and your commitment. 

To share with us more about the campaign, please join me in welcoming Professor Rob Kaplan, the Faculty Chair of the Harvard Business School Campaign.