Dr. James S.C. Chao

Dr. and Mrs. James S.C. Chao dedicated their lives to promoting the values of education, volunteerism and philanthropy.  More than 5,000 American and Chinese students have been given the opportunity to widen their horizons through the generous scholarships provided by the Shanghai Mulan Education Foundation, and other Chao family philanthropies.  Despite a busy career, Dr. Chao has always found time to serve on numerous boards, including as adjunct professor, advisor, and Trustee of the St. John’s University Board of Governors. In recognition of his lifelong contributions to the University and dedication to education, St. John’s conferred its most prestigious award — the Medal of Honor– upon Dr. Chao.  Dr. Chao remains as Trustee Emeritus of St. John’s University.

Dr. Chao is an active supporter of many other academic institutions with which he has been associated.  He served as Chairman of the Chiao-Tung University Alumni Association in America for 11 years.  From 1988-1999, he also chaired Chiao-Tung University’s Alumni Foundation in America.  

Dr. Chao has received numerous academic, professional and civic awards throughout his career.  His academic honors include an honorary Doctorate of Law from Niagara University; an honorary Doctorate of Letters from Nyack University; the Distinguished Achievement & Contribution Award from Shanghai Jiao Tong University; and an Honorary Doctorate Degree  of Business at Fu Jen University.  He was also honored with the very first Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award from the Chinese American Academic & Professional Society (CAAPS).

Philanthropic Activity

Following the passing of his beloved wife, Ruth, he has chosen to celebrate her life and legacy through his philanthropic giving.  Dr. Chao sponsored the Mulan Marine Simulation Memorial Building at Shanghai Maritime University, the world’s first state-of-the-art, 360-degree, marine simulation training center.  He also endowed Jiao Tong University in Shanghai with the Ruth Mulan Chu Chao building, a ten story, 336,000 square-foot structure that is a vibrant part of the University’s campus.

On October 12, 2012, Harvard University announced a $40 million gift to the University to construct the Ruth Mulan Chu Chao Center, which will anchor the Executive Education programs at Harvard Business School. In addition, the gift will support the Ruth Mulan Chu and James Si-Cheng Chao Family Fellowship Fund at Harvard Business School. With this gift, Dr. Chao not only recognized Harvard University’s 375th anniversary, but the 50th anniversary of the admission of women to Harvard Business School, which four of his daughters attended.  The Ruth Mulan Chu Chao Center will also have the distinction of being the first building on the Harvard campus to be named for a woman and for an American of Chinese ancestry.

Civic Awards

Dr. Chao is a recipient of many prestigious civic awards as well, recognized as an inspirational leader who made a difference in his community, country, and the world. 

  • Ellis Island award (with his daughter, The Honorable Elaine L. Chao)

  • Horatio Alger Award from the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans

  • Outstanding American by Choice from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security

  • Outstanding service award from American Legion Post 1291

  • Outstanding Life Achievement Award from the New York Community Times

  • Lifetime Legacy Award from the International Leadership Foundation

  • recognized by the Asian-American community for his many contributions

  • Lifetime Achievement Award from Sing Tao Daily Newspaper

  • Outstanding Achievement Award from the New York State Asian Job Service Employer Committee

  • Special Recognition Award for Life Accomplishments from the Asian Pacific American community of Kentucky (2006)

  • L​​isted as one of the Top 50 Asian American Business Persons of the Year (2007)

  • Lifetime Achievement and Contribution inaugural award from the Museum of Chinese in America (2010)

  • International Leadership Foundation’s inaugural Leadership and Achievement Award from US-China Education Trust 

  • Silver Bell Award, the highest honor from the Seamen’s Church Institute (for leadership in the maritime community)

  • Centennial medal from the Chinese Institute of Engineers, USA (for leadership in adopting energy-efficient and eco-friendly ship design and technology)