Legacy of a Millikan Protégé Lives on through a Gift
In 1997, Eugene Ch’en was combing through the files of his deceased father, Shang-Yi Ch’en (PhD ’40), when he came across a stack of letters. The typed notes—formal and concise yet imbued with sincerity—were addressed to his father and sent by Robert A. Millikan, Caltech co-founder and a 1923 Nobel laureate.
The correspondence provided Eugene Ch’en with new insight into his father’s friendship with the Caltech leader—a bond that began on campus, continued through Shang-Yi Ch’en’s return to China during the turbulent war years, and endured until Millikan’s death in 1953.
When the time came for Eugene Ch’en to begin planning his estate, he thought of his father, the letters, and Millikan. He created a charitable trust that will fund the Shang-Yi Ch’en Professorship in Physics, an endowment that honors his father and intertwines the legacies of the Ch’ens with Caltech. The gift of a professorship offers generations of scholars the assurance of consistent support, enabling them to dream bigger as they explore new research ideas.