The Founders

In 1936 Ms Chung Kwai Lui arrived in the USA as an exchange student on scholarship from China. While experiencing cultural and dietary differences and adjusting to them, she also had to balance her studies with work. She worked at different jobs with odd hours to support herself financially and to avoid interference with her studies. Dr. Chung Kwai Lui overcame these challenges and in 1941 she was the first woman to receive a Ph.D. in Physics from Oregon State University. Dr. C.K. Lui went on to become a nationally ranked research scientist who worked on the "Manhattan Project" and who was named "Woman of the Day" by Eleanor Roosevelt on May 30, 1949.

Mr. Hsin Hsu Wei immigrated to the United States after World War II and graduated from Columbia University with a Master Degree in Electrical Engineering. While pursuing his degree at Columbia, he met Dr. Chung Kwai Lui. They were married soon thereafter in 1949. Mr. Wei became a Design and Development Electrical Engineer with Westinghouse Electric Corporation.

Mr. Hsin Hsu Wei and Dr. Chung Kwai Lui Wei both recognized the value of higher education and understood well the financial hardships a student can endure. The Weis designated funds from their estate to establish the Wei Family Private Foundation to offer scholarship grants to support students of Chinese heritage, American or overseas born who are pursuing a degree in Physics or Mathematics at Oregon State University or Electrical Engineering at Columbia University.

The Star-Ledger, (Newark, NJ)

Chung Kwai Lui Wei, worked on A-bomb

Published: January 7, 2008

She knew too much - and it made all the difference. As her student visa was about to expire, Chung Kwai Lui Wei, a research scientist, was in danger of being sent back to her native China. But during World War II, she had worked on the secret Manhattan Project that developed the atom bomb. That was reason enough to stay - and she did after President Harry S. Truman signed a bill granting her permanent residency on March 21, 1949, in a flurry of media attention. "She was always confident that she was going to stay," said her friend, Edward Chen. Mrs. Wei died Thursday at her Bloomfield home, leaving behind a close-knit circle of friends who looked after her in her last years. She was 98. "She was a very accomplished lady, very amiable, friendly - somewhat reserved," said John W. Donnelly, another friend, who called her his Chinese grandmother. "But she was not snobby. She could laugh."
In 1936, she came to the United States to enroll at Oregon State University on a scholarship, Chen said. At first, she was puzzled by the idea of salads and the rapid-fire English her professors used during lectures. But she quickly adapted and went on to get a master's degree in 1937 and a doctorate in physics in 1941, making her the first woman in the school to earn that diploma. "There were very few women in her science classes," Chen said. "Most women were studying home economics at Oregon State." After a few years of teaching, Mrs. Wei started working at the Westinghouse Lamp Research Laboratory in Bloomfield, where she researched phosphors and fluorescent lamps, and had a hand in the development of the atom bomb. The dramatic year for her was 1949, when the Communist Party took over China. She was saved from deportation because of her research, and she married Hsin Hsu Wei.
And then, three days after her wedding, Eleanor Roosevelt named her "Woman of the Day" on May 30 and gave her a silver plate that Mrs. Wei proudly hung in her dining room. "She was an exceptional scientist", Donnelly said. She continued her successful career at Westinghouse until her retirement in 1974. She spent her time playing tennis with her husband, growing Chinese vegetables in her garden, and traveling. After her husband died in 2000, Mrs. Wei grew to increasingly rely on her friends Donnelly, Lam and Chen for companionship. "She considered her friends, family," Lam said. A viewing will be held from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. today at S.W. Brown & Son Funeral Home, 267 Centre St., Nutley, followed by a noon Mass at St. Mary's Church in Nutley. Interment will be at Holy Cross Cemetery in North Arlington.

Copyright 2008 The Star-Ledger. All Rights Reserved. Used by NewsBank with Permission