Close

UHV creates endowed scholarship to honor late faculty member

Li Chao, right, stands with his wife, Jenny Huang, about 10 years ago during the couple’s trip to Niagara Falls. Chao, a UHV professor of mathematics and computer science, passed away in November, and the university is honoring his years of service with an endowed scholarship.

The University of Houston-Victoria has begun raising funds to create the Dr. Li Chao Memorial Scholarship Endowment to honor the memory of a faculty member who made a lasting impact on the university and the lives of many of its students.

Chao joined the UHV faculty in the fall of 1995 as an assistant professor of mathematics and computer science. He was promoted to associate professor in 2001 and professor in 2007. When he was promoted to full professor, he had taught 48 undergraduate and graduate courses in computer science, mathematics and statistics, and he received almost perfect student evaluations from every one. Chao passed away in November.

Jeffrey Di Leo

“Li Chao was one of our most dedicated, beloved and talented faculty members,” said Jeffrey Di Leo, dean of the UHV School of Arts & Sciences. “He was not just an excellent teacher, but a highly productive scholar dedicated to service to his department, school and university. Through his leadership, our computer information systems program became the largest graduate program in our school. This scholarship will be an excellent tribute to a man who brought so many positive changes to UHV as a university and a community.”

Once it is funded, the scholarship will benefit undergraduate and graduate students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics. The goal for the endowment is $100,000, and the university already has received a good response from alumni and faculty members.

Jenny Huang, Chao’s wife and a retired teacher, started driving her husband to his classes in Victoria toward the end of his life. She remembers watching him teach and how much he enjoyed sharing his passion for computers with others.

“He was such a natural teacher,” Huang said. “When he was in the classroom, he was humorous and lively. It was totally different from his usual, quiet demeanor. He had a great time teaching at UHV, and I’m sure he would feel honored to have a scholarship in his name.”

Huang remembered her husband was constantly working on projects and learning about the latest strides in technology. His knowledge seemed to cover every topic, she said.

“Even with cars, he knew the latest thing,” Huang said. “I never had to Google anything when he was around. I could just ask him, and he would already know. I used to joke with him that I don’t need an encyclopedia as long as he is around.”

Yun Wan

Yun Wan, a UHV professor of computer information systems, first met Chao in 2004 when Wan was interviewing to join the university’s faculty. During the years that they worked together, Wan remembers Chao’s emphasis on the importance of teaching and his passion for recruiting more students to the computer information systems program.

Chao would go to companies in the Houston area and encourage the employees to pursue graduate degrees so they would be better equipped to work with the latest technology. He also wrote books on topics such as network information systems and cloud computing to help his students. He even became certified in Oracle, a widely used database and cloud computing system, so his students could have access to practical knowledge they would use in their careers.

“He was a very good influence on the students,” Wan said. “They liked him because he was very patient and helped them understand what they were being taught.”

Mike McDougal

Mike McDougal graduated from UHV in December 2016 with a Master of Science in computer information systems. The environmental programs coordinator for the City of Austin chose to contribute to the scholarship to honor his former professor and help future students pursue their studies in STEM fields while receiving the same excellent education experience he had at UHV.

“Dr. Chao was an excellent professor who was always available to help,” McDougal said. “He was extremely knowledgeable, and any time I had questions, he would answer my emails almost immediately. He was able to explain difficult concepts clearly, even through emails. I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to learn from him, and I wanted to show my appreciation by giving to the scholarship.”

To find out more about the scholarship, contact Jesse Pisors, UHV vice president for advancement and external relations at 361-570-4829 or pisorsj@uhv.edu

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973, offers courses leading to 70 bachelor’s, master’s and specialist degree programs and concentrations in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as a teaching center in Katy, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All Initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student popular, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.