Secretary Elaine Chao


Remarks prepared for the Honorable Elaine L. Chao, 24th U.S. Secretary of Labor Topping - Off Ceremony for the Ruth Mulan Chu Chao Executive Education Center

Thank you Dean Nohria, Dean McArthur, Dean Light, and Dr. McFarland, for your warm welcome.

What a beautiful day to be on the Harvard campus!  The seeds of our family’s journey with Harvard began shortly after the passing of my late, beloved mother, Ruth Mulan Chu Chao, on August 2, 2007.

My father wanted to pay tribute to the extraordinary life and legacy of my mother, in the hope of inspiring future leaders to build a better world.  This journey is approaching the realization of that vision with today’s placement of the last steel beam on the highest point of the physical frame of this structure.

On behalf of my father, Dr. James S.C. Chao, myself, my sisters May, Christine, and Angela, and their spouses who are here today, Jim Breyer and Jeffrey Hwang, all the Chao family members here today and myself , I want to express our deep thanks to all the workers, Lee Kennedy Company, Goody Clancy, and Reed Hilderbrand who worked so hard through one of the harshest winters in recent history to bring the Ruth Mulan Chu Chao Center another step toward reality.

The Center is to be opened in June 2016, and its anticipated exterior design will beautifully capture the different worlds my parents traversed to achieve their dreams.  The front will be in the Georgian style, which evokes an old world order, while the back will be soaring glass, a window on the modern world and all its rapid changes.  This duality reflects the fact that during their life-long journey together, my parents never wavered in their strong belief that education was key to bridging the gap between the old world and the new, and to building a better life.

That’s why my father and our family are so pleased to be able to give back to this University which educated 4 of their daughters and 2 son-in-laws, and to the country, which have given us so much.  This center is not only an enduring monument to our parent’s inspiring life and love, but reflects their determination to empower others through the gift of education. It is our hope that the Ruth Mulan Chu Chao Center will be an inspirational focal point to bring together emerging leaders to develop a deeper understanding of the world around us, so they can create greater opportunities and improve the quality of life for everyone. 

Thank you.