Chao-Hsien Chu, one of IST’s original five faculty members, has died

Jordan Ford
January 25, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Chao-Hsien Chu, professor of information sciences and technology and one of the College of Information Sciences and Technology’s (IST) original five faculty members, died Friday, Jan. 15. He was 69.

An active educator, researcher and administrator at Penn State, Chu marked 20 years of service to the college in 2019.

Chao was a trusted colleague and friend, and he was instrumental in turning the idea of a new information school at Penn State into a reality,” said Andrew Sears, dean of IST. “His early contributions drove many of the college’s key programs, and his kindness and helpfulness as a mentor positioned IST faculty and students to build on the foundation which he helped to createHis open door was an invitation for anyone to stop and talk about research, teaching and other life events. His friendly smile will be missed by all.”

Born in Taiwan, Chu earned his bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from the country’s Chung Yuan University in 1974 and a master of business administration from Tatung University in 1978. 

He held various roles at his alma maters before receiving his doctorate in business administration from Penn State in 1984. After taking on a faculty appointment at Baruch College, an institution of the City University of New York in Manhattan, he held a 13-year career as associate professor of operations, supply chain management, and information systems at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. During this time, he also held a faculty appointment while on sabbatical leave at Tsukuba University in Ibaraki, Japan.

Chu joined Penn State in July 1999 as the College of IST was preparing to enroll its first students. Known as an early bird and a workhorse, he helped to create IST’s first undergraduate and graduate programs. He was a main designer of the curriculum for the security and risk analysis major and the integration and application option within the IST major. These efforts led to the college’s designation in 2008 as a National Center of Academic Excellence for Information Assurance Research by the NSA and the Department of Homeland Security, a designation that the college still holds.

He earned the rank of professor of IST in 2007and held numerous administrative positions related to online education at Penn State and in management as a visiting professor at Singapore Management University, respectivelyIn 2009, as senior academic director for online education, Chu helped the College of IST launch its first master of professional studies program offered through Penn State World Campus.

His research explored Internet of Things, smart sensing, smart health care, security and big data analytics, and operations and technology innovation. He sat on seven journal editorial review boards; served as a track chair or program committee member for more than 30 international conferences; and published nearly 200 journal articles, six of which received best paper awards.

Within IST, Chu helped to launch the Center for Information Assurance, and served as the director of the Smart Sensing/RFID Lab and the education co-director for the Center for Cyber Security, Information Privacy and Trust. His international experience also connected the college to a global community through research collaborations and student exchange programs with institutions in Singapore, China, Japan and Europe.

“Chao devoted his best part of life and full energy to the College of IST," said Guoray Cai, associate professor of IST. “We arrived at Penn State in the same year when the college was created, and since then, we stayed very close as friends. As a senior colleague, he was my guide and mentor both academically and in development, and I enjoyed great conversation with him all the time. It is heartbreaking to lose him.”

He is remembered as good-hearted colleague, a considerate mentor, a thoughtful sounding board and a gentle soul.

Chu is survived by his wife and two daughters. Services will be held at a later date as public health guidelines allow.

Individuals wishing to share condolences with Chu’s family can send messages to Karen Brewster, director of administrative operations and faculty affairs in the College of IST, at or E397 Westgate Building, University Park, PA 16802.


  • Photo of Chao-Hsien Chu

    Penn State mourns the loss of Chao-Hsien Chu, who passed away on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021.

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    IMAGE: Penn State
Last Updated January 25, 2021