Cover Graphic: links to the cover
Return to

Spring 2002 l Capital University Journal
Professors leave legacy of care

Photo: Chien Yuan huChien Yuan Hu, physics, and Marda West, biological sciences, are the most recent professors to help students through donations from their estates.

Professor Hu, who retired in 1992 from the physics department after 26 years, recently passed away at age 73. He left his estate, nearly $2 million, to create a legacy that will impact not only the physics department but his area of scholarship.

Professor West, who passed away at 61 following a 35-year campus career, donated the bulk of her six-figure estate to the department of biological sciences to continue to help students.

Professor Hu first donated a piece of property for an endowed scholarship. The scholarship rewards excellence by supporting a student with straight As in physics. Students with a 3.8 GPA or above may qualify for a portion of the fund if no other student is fully qualified.

Seeing what a difference he personally could make through bequeathing his assets, he arranged for the rest of his estate to benefit specific projects that he chose.

Photo of Chien Yuan Hu, Taiwan, 1955In addition to the scholarship, some of the endowment’s income will be used to purchase a Foucault pendulum to hang in the new Science II building when it is constructed. Funds will also be used to purchase instructional and demonstration equipment and to support laboratory renovations, providing students with a state-of-the-art experience and preparation.

“He wanted students to have opportunities to work on the best equipment, and faculty to have what they need to do their work in physics,” said Marion O’Leary, dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

Professor Hu regularly rode a bicycle to class and his car was a classic Ford Mustang, which he willed to the Towe Auto Museum. He was born in China in 1927 and passed away in December 2001. He received his degree in philosophy in Taiwan, where had he fled from China. He received his master’s degree and doctorate in physics from the University of Missouri.

Photo: Marda WestMarda West often said that her life centered around her students and her animal friends on campus. She was always a strong advocate for campus animals, including the chickens—and is often referred to as “the mother of the chickens” for all the care and nurturing that she gave to them and their broods when they first arrived. She had pet names for many of them.

O’Leary said, “She also knew the squirrels. She hand-fed them; it was part of her afternoon routine, and she even knew the genealogy of the chickens.

“Giving was a tradition with her. She had helped students individually for many years and she had helped support the animals over the years,” said O’Leary.

Professor West wanted to do something meaningful with her estate and wanted to leave something to the department, especially for the students and the animals. She arranged to have her estate—including her truck—go to the biology department. The funds will be used for endowed scholarships and equipment to benefit the department.

Although vehicles rarely are accepted by the University, the truck has special meaning to many in the department because West used it each week to collect fresh plant specimens for one of her labs. Today, under the care of graduate
students, the truck is still making
those trips.

Professor West joined the faculty in 1966. She earned her undergraduate degree from what is now California State University, Long Beach, and a master’s degree and doctorate from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Planned Giving

Sheila Hard, the University’s planned giving officer who has been helping people plan gifts to universities for 14 years, said that making a deferred gift through a will or trust is the easiest way for individuals to leave a legacy with Sac State, thereby contributing their assets to something they believe in. Hard said the University accepts many different types of gifts, including stocks and real property in a variety of arrangements ranging from simple bequests in wills to sophisticated trusts that pay income to donors and provide tax benefits.

“There are frequently significant tax breaks, but most people don’t give because of taxes; they give to make a difference,” she said.

Hard said individuals need to work with an estate planning attorney, and contact her to discuss what they would like to accomplish with their gifts. “If individuals are thinking of making a bequest, it is important they talk to me prior to the will being drawn, to be certain the gift will clearly and easily be applied as intended,” she said.

In her years, she has seen some oversights that left the charity confused about what the donor intended. “Including the University in a will is easy to do, but it must be done right and precisely,” she said.

The assets or their proceeds can be used in a variety of ways including:

• an unrestricted bequest, which can be used by the University for any purpose in its mission;

• an endowed bequest, such as a memorial scholarship, where the principal remains untouched and the interest is spent as directed;

• a specific purpose bequest, that establishes funds for a purpose directed by the donor.

Cover Graphic: links to the cover
Return to