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April 15, 2002

Professors leave legacy of care

Two long-time professors at California State University, Sacramento have made bequests to the University that will have significant and lasting impact.
Chien Yuan Hu, physics, and Marda West, biological sciences, are the most recent professors to help students through donations from their estates.

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.

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.


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.

In addition to the scholarship some of the endowment's incomes 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 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.

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 he had fled from China. He received his master's degree and doctorate in physics from the University of Missouri.


Marda 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.

"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.

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.

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.

More information about giving a gift to CSUS is available at (916) 278-6989 or Additional media assistance is available at (916) 278-6156.


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