Scholarship Gift Inspired by Research Assistantship and Faculty Mentor

l-r: Kaiyuan Chen and professor emeritus Fui T. Chan
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l-r: Kaiyuan Chen and professor emeritus Fui T. Chan

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – When Kaiyuan Chen graduated from the University of Arkansas, he left with two degrees and a mentor for life. Those experiences led him to establish the Fui T. Chan and Kaiyuan Chen Endowed Research Scholarship with a $50,000 gift that will be matched with another $50,000 by his employer. The total scholarship endowment of $100,000 counts toward Campaign Arkansas, the university’s $1 billion capital campaign.

“Creating additional scholarships for undergraduate students who wish to engage in research is a key priority of ours in Campaign Arkansas,” said Jim Rankin, vice provost for research and innovation. “Undergraduate research gives our students and faculty an excellent opportunity to collaborate on cutting-edge projects and advance the university’s teaching and research missions. We are incredibly grateful to Dr. Chen for his willingness to support this critical work.”

The Fui T. Chan and Kaiyuan Chen Endowed Research Scholarship is named after Chen and his doctoral adviser from the Department of Physics. Its purpose will be to assist undergraduate students with financial need who are pursuing research under the supervision and mentorship of a faculty member in the Department of Physics in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.

“Research is an important part of study,” Chen said. “Undergraduate students typically spend most of their time studying textbook knowledge, but hands-on research can help them choose a career path and develop their problem-solving skills, which are very important in the workforce. My hope is that this scholarship will encourage more undergraduate students to participate in research.”

“It is with tremendous gratitude and excitement that the physics department accepts this gift establishing the Fui T. Chan and Kaiyuan Chen Endowed Research Scholarship,” said William “Lin” Oliver, chair of the department. “We recall with great fondness both Dr. Kaiyuan Chen during his time here as a doctoral student and Emeritus Professor F.T. Chan, who served our department and university for more than 30 years. Dr. Chen’s generosity, as well as that of the Texas Instruments Foundation, will enable new generations of undergraduate students to explore research under the guidance of our faculty.”

Chen came to the University of Arkansas to pursue his doctoral degree after working as a lecturer at Fudan University in China, where he conducted research on high-temperature superconductors for several years. He was awarded a full research assistantship in the Department of Physics, and Fui T. Chan was his adviser for his doctoral research project in the High-Density Electronics Center (HiDEC). Chan completed his doctorate at the University of California at San Diego, came to the university in 1969 as an assistant professor of physics and was promoted to full professor in 1980.

“The research assistantship I received helped me 20 years ago,” Chen said. “I want this scholarship to help future students with financial needs, which is why it gives preference to students with financial need.”

Chen earned a doctorate in physics and a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering, and his work with Chan led to his dream career at Texas Instruments after graduation. Chen now works as a senior member of the technical staff at Texas Instruments and says he’s grateful for the company’s match from the Texas Instruments Foundation.

“When I look back, it is clear that where I am today is because Dr. Chan selected me as his student 25 years ago,” Chen said. “He opened a door for me and let me work on the HiDEC project. He spent his entire career at the University of Arkansas, has taught countless undergraduate students and has trained many graduate students. He needs to be remembered.”

“Doing well in physics requires certain degrees of creativity and imagination,” said Chan, who retired in 2000. “Thus, physics is a game for the youth. I do hope that others will follow Dr. Chen’s generosity by providing more opportunities for young students who are starting to do research and encourage them as early as possible.”

Chen, who lives in Dallas, is counted as a Thoroughred for his six years of consecutive giving to the university.

About Campaign Arkansas: Campaign Arkansas is the ongoing capital campaign for the University of Arkansas to raise private gift support for the university’s academic mission and other key priorities. The campaign’s goal is to raise $1 billion to support academic and need-based scholarships, technology enhancements, new and renovated facilities, undergraduate, graduate and faculty research, study abroad opportunities and other innovative programs. The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in a wide spectrum of disciplines as it works to fulfill its public land-grant mission to serve Arkansas and beyond as a partner, resource and catalyst.

About the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences: The J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences is the largest and most academically diverse unit on campus with 19 departments and 43 academic programs and research centers. The college provides the core curriculum for all University of Arkansas students and is named for J. William Fulbright, former university president and longtime U.S. senator.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among only 2 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.


Jennifer Holland, director of development communications
University Relations


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