The University of Arkansas at Little Rock has received a $6.75 million gift from the family of a beloved engineering professor who was responsible for establishing some of the university’s first engineering programs.
The Yupo and Susan Chan Charitable Trust made the gift to fulfill the expressed vision of Dr. Yupo Chan, the founding chair of the Department of Systems Engineering, who passed away in 2020. The transformational gift will support UA Little Rock’s new School of Engineering and Engineering Technology and provide scholarships for engineering students for many years to come.
This gift represents the fifth largest donation in the university’s history and kicks off an important moment as UA Little Rock celebrates the public launch of its new capital campaign. The gift was announced Oct. 13 during the official launch celebration of the Centennial Campaign, which commemorates the university’s upcoming centennial anniversary in 2027.
“Education was very important to Yupo,” his wife Susan Chan said. “Yupo’s vision boiled down to an interest in helping make UA Little Rock an important center for engineering and operations research. The two things he most enjoyed about working at UA Little Rock were mentoring individual students to make a difference in their lives and doing engineering research. He wanted to make a significant difference to UA Little Rock.”
The gift from the Yupo and Susan Chan Charitable Trust, for which Susan Chan and her niece Alexandra Johnson serve as trustees, includes:
$1.5 million to establish the Yupo Chan Director of the School of Engineering Endowment
$2 million to create the Chan Wui and Yunyin Endowed Undergraduate Scholarship
$3.25 million to create the Chan Wui and Yunyin Endowed Graduate Scholarship
“Dr. Chan was an extraordinary leader and mentor,” said Dr. Christina Drale, chancellor of UA Little Rock. “His accomplishments at this university touched many lives and helped elevate our engineering school to national prominence. This gift will continue the transformational effect on students and programs that he was known for and to which he dedicated his career.”
The Yupo Chan Director of the School of Engineering Endowment will provide funds to benefit the university’s School of Engineering and Engineering Technology, which launched July 1 in the Donaghey College of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).
“Dr. Chan served as the initial chair of systems engineering and brought engineering to our campus,” said Dr. Lawrence Whitman, dean of the Donaghey College of STEM. “Dr. Chan’s legacy will continue to positively impact engineering at our university by strengthening the School of Engineering and Engineering Technology at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. We are grateful to the Chans for the transformational gift that will provide for the future of engineering on our campus.”
The endowment will help attract and recruit highly qualified individuals to the position of the director of the School of Engineering, which will be named for Dr. Chan, and provide the director with the resources to further their contributions to teaching, research, and public service. The fund will also supplement university support for outstanding faculty in the school.
The scholarships will provide assistance to full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate students studying engineering and engineering technology at UA Little Rock for education related expenses, including tuition, books, fees, and room and board. Scholarship recipients will be selected based on financial need and/or merit.
The scholarships are named in memory of Dr. Chan’s parents to honor their commitment to education. During the Communist takeover of China, the country seized the family’s property, and the Chan family fled to the British colony of Hong Kong in the 1950s.
“Yupo’s parents believed strongly in the value of education, that education was the path toward success in life,” Susan Chan said. “They sent Yupo to a very good Hong Kong Catholic High School that prepared him to be admitted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.”
Dr. Chan received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, a master’s degree in transportation systems, and a Ph.D. in operations research, all from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His academic career included positions at the State University of New York at Stoney Brook, Penn State, the University of Washington, and the Air Force Institute of Technology.
He joined UA Little Rock in 2000, where he spent two decades as a leading engineering educator and researcher. Dr. Chan founded the Chan Wui and Yunyin Rising Star Workshop to consider the analytical relationship between mobility and communication and established a chapter of Tau Beta Pi, an honor society for engineering students, at UA Little Rock. In later years at UA Little Rock, he worked with a team of scientists to develop a small, cost-effective way to observe atmospheric levels of greenhouse gasses using CubeSats.