An Unexpected Partnership
A friend’s passing connected her with the University community.
How the legacy she helped create has led to new opportunities for students.
Giving as a given
Yu Ru never thought about giving to West Chester University.
“Giving is always something people always have in mind,” she says. “It’s part of our nature, but we don’t always know how or where to donate our time and money.”
When her friend of five years – Dr. Xin Fan, a former professor of biology at the University – passed away suddenly, Yu attended a memorial service organized by her colleagues. She was moved by how much the school cares for its faculty, and how much the students care for their professors. In fall 2019, she joined the University as an adjunct professor at the urging of Dr. Linda (Xiaowei) Zhu, chair of the Department of Management, whom she met after Dr. Fan’s passing.
“I heard that the Department of Biology established a fund in Xin’s memory, and I got excited,” says Yu. “My motivation to give was first and foremost driven by tragedy, but the beauty of teaching is that I can pay respect to my friend – and sponsor a scholarship for the long run.” The Dr. Xin Fan Memorial Fund celebrates Dr. Fan’s excellence as a scientific scholar, performance artist, and athlete – scholarship recipients are biology majors who mirror her excellence.
But Yu didn’t stop there. In collaboration with Linda and Evan Leach, Dean of the College of Business and Public Management, she established the Business Management Department Operating Fund in 2019. In addition to supporting the growth of the memorial fund, she keeps half of her University pay and donates the rest to the operating fund.
Adjunct Professor & Donor
Dr. Xin Fan Memorial Fund/Business Management Department Operating Fund
“My motivation to give was first and foremost driven by tragedy, but the beauty of teaching is that I can pay respect to my friend – and sponsor a scholarship for the long run.” – Yu Ru
“Giving is always something people always have in mind,” Yu says. “It’s part of our nature, but we don’t always know how or where to donate our time and money.”
Integrating theory and practice
Emphasizing experiential learning through company tours, consulting projects, a real-world business problem case competition, and study abroad is just one way the Department utilizes funding – and every dollar counts.
Monies from the operating fund support study abroad and other department initiatives that are not covered by the University budget, like the Supply Chain and Operations Management Case Competition, which offered monetary prizes.
“We volunteered our time – the students learn to communicate, how to present, how to research – and they can make some money,” Yu says. The inaugural competition in October 2020 was hosted by the Department of Management. Students were presented with a real case study and reported their findings to judges from different industries.
Yu participated as a judge, just one example of how she continues to find ways to encourage students to enjoy learning.
“As a professor, my goal is to integrate more practical components from the industry perspective. I treat it as an open forum so my students can tell me what is relevant.”
Right now, it’s supply chain management, a new field of study at West Chester that she foresees becoming a major. After two decades in project management, Yu understands how critical the supply chain team is. Currently, she serves as Senior Director, Global Project Leadership at Teva Pharmaceuticals.
“Study abroad is a perfect learning experience to explore this topic,” she says. “Students can see and understand the culture and learn how to be mindful and ethical when they deal with foreign companies.”
The Department hopes to continue using this funding to cover the cost of student membership fees for professional organizations and for extracurricular activities like bus rentals – which can cost up to $1,000 – to take company tours. In the past, students have visited the Amazon Distribution Center, Harley-Davidson Motorcycles, Saxby’s Coffee, UPS, and Martin Guitar. cover the cost of student membership fees for professional organizations.
A joint effort
Yu is quick to give credit where it’s due – to the University, and to her employer.
“Teva encourages their employees to contribute to the community,” she says. “My husband has been supportive as well,” she laughs, “Of course I need to prepare for my classes.”
With Yu, there’s always something new around the corner. Recently, she and Linda collaborated to reimburse students who have interest in obtaining a professional certification before they graduate – the department is now able to reimburse exam fees, which can be close to $500.
Her energy and passion are boundless, partially because she feels appreciated and supported by the University, her colleagues, and Dean Leach. “Even though I am a contract employee and I only teach one class, he considers me to be part of the faculty,” she says. “And part of the family.”