by Timothy P. Cross

In 1998, Chinese businessman Z. Y. Fu, founder of the Tokyo-based Sansiao Trading Company and brother-in-law of Professor of Applied Mathematics John Chu, made a gift of $26 million to the School. At the time, this gift was the largest single donation ever given to Columbia by a single benefactor.

At Columbia, Fu is probably best known for this gift, which gave the School its official name. But it was hardly his only act of generosity. In 1993, he created the Fu Scholars Program to allow exceptional students of Chinese origin to attend the Engineering School or the College. In total, 46 students attended Columbia during the 1990s and early 2000s because of his generosity.

Fu passed away in 2011, but his spirit lives on, not only in the School that bears his name but also in the Z. Y. Fu Memorial Scholarship Program. Established by a group of former Fu Scholars, the Fu Memorial Scholarship honors him in a way that he would truly understand and commend—providing four-year scholarships so that deserving Chinese students can study at the School.

So far, two Fu Memorial Scholars have matriculated at the School. Last fall, Jiahui “Teddy” Liu ’17SEAS, originally from Chengdu in southwest China, became the first Fu Memorial Scholar. She is currently planning to major in computer science, with a minor in applied mathematics. This fall, Xinyue “Cindy” Wang ’18SEAS, the newest Fu Memorial Scholar, began her first year at the School. Cindy hails from Nanchang and attended the Jiangxi Normal University High School.

Cheng Wang BS’04, now executive director at UBS in Hong Kong, was one of the original Fu Scholars. As a student, he was “surprised that a foreign university would offer a foreign student this opportunity.” At the time, a typical Chinese family could not have afforded to send a child to Columbia, “but Columbia gave us this opportunity,” and he felt “we should carry on Mr. Fu’s will.” Former Fu Scholar Donglei Zhou BS’00 praised the new scholarships for continuing “Mr. Fu’s legacy of devotion to education.”

Wang and other former Fu Scholars had a chance to meet Cindy at a dinner hosted by Dean Mary C. Boyce in Shanghai on June 24. The dinner also was an opportunity for the dean to meet the Fu Scholars for the first time. Wang and the other alumni shared their Columbia experiences with Cindy. Other guests at the dinner included Mike Haiyun Ren ’04CC, Helen Hailin Lou ’99CC, Andrew Ma BS’05, and Yan Lou ’99CC, ’05BUS. (The School welcomed Teddy with her own dinner in June 2013 before she arrived at Columbia.)

Dean Boyce noted that “so many great things at our School during the last two decades can be traced directly to Mr. Fu’s generosity.” And she praised the donors to the Fu Memorial Scholarship for “giving a new generation of Chinese students the same opportunity to study at Columbia that Mr. Fu had given them.”

One Columbia Engineering couple, Shen Li ’02 and Angela Liu ’02, have special reason to support the Fu Memorial Scholarships. “Angela and I are excited to see a new Fu Memorial Scholar joining Columbia in September,” he says. “Without late Mr. Fu’s generosity, my education would not have been possible, and we would not have met. Our efforts to form and contribute to the Scholarship are a way to give back, to extend his generosity to the next generation of talents who would otherwise not have access to Columbia education, and to let Mr. Fu’s legacy live on.”

Pictured above: Xinyue "Cindy" Wang '18SEAS (left) and Jiahui "Teddy" Liu '17SEAS, Columbia Engineering's Z. Y. Fu Memorial Scholars.