Members of the University School of Milwaukee community gathered on Saturday, May 7 to celebrate the incredible life and career of long-time faculty member Fengchi Chen, who taught various science courses at the school from 1963 to 1981. Members of her family, as well as alumni, faculty, and administrators, traveled from near and far to honor her impact on the school through the dedication of the Fengchi Wu Chen Chemistry Wing in the Upper School.
Chen’s family, including her daughter, Dr. Leona Chen ’74 and son, Albert Chen ’78, established an endowed fund in her honor, which was further supported by other family members, friends, and USM alumni. The fund supports science teachers and students at USM and highlights her passion for the subject area.
During her tenure, Chen taught Upper School chemistry, Upper School physics, Chemistry Physics I, and AP Chemistry, and served as the first female chair of the Science Department. She also led a cooperative venture with the Lower School by teaching a weekly science class for 3rd grade students.
“As I researched Fengchi for today’s event, I learned that she had a profound effect on many generations of people,” said Head of School Steve Hancock to the gathered crowd. “I think you are a testament to that today. I'm so thankful to be here to celebrate a titan of our school—someone who broke the glass ceiling and who seemed to really love her students and her subject.”
“My mom was a teacher, a mentor, a colleague, a community leader, a friend, and an inspiration—both inside and outside the classroom,” said Leona Chen. “I hope that each generation of students that passes through this hallway will read about this groundbreaking woman. Maybe some of them will see a bit of themselves in her story, and be inspired by what could lie ahead in their own futures. Thank you all for coming today and for sharing your memories of my mom. My heart bursts with pride.”
If you would like to contribute to Fengchi Chen’s memory through the school’s endowed fund, please contact Leah Wabiszewski at firstname.lastname@example.org or 414.540.3328.