Dr. Juh Wah Chen, 92, of Murphysboro, Illinois, died peacefully at his home on Saturday, February 6, 2021.
Born in Shanghai, China, Dr. Chen earned his Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering from Taiwan College of Engineering in 1953. Soon after, he came to the United States to continue his education at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana earning a Masters and PhD in Chemical Engineering in 1959.Following his graduation, he accepted a position at Bucknell University as an assistant professor.
He was the Dean of the College of Engineering at Southern Illinois University from 1989 to 1999. During his tenure as Dean, he led the College through a major building expansion and engineering program accreditation. He also brought the College to international prominence by founding an engineering conference with National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan and the Technical University of Ostrava in the Czech Republic, where he received an honorary Doctorate in 1999.
Dr. Chen held varying positions over his 34 year-long tenure at SIU. After joining the faculty in 1965 as an associate professor, he rose to the rank of full professor, before becoming the chair of the department of Thermal and Environmental Engineering in 1972. He held this position for more than a decade, prior to accepting the position of Associate Dean at the College of Engineering, which he held until 1988. He became the Dean of the College of Engineering in 1989 until his retirement in 1999.
Dr. Chen met his wife of 62 years, Han Lin, in college in Taiwan. She studied at SIU, where she became an associate professor of Technology, and they raised their three children in Carbondale. During their time as professors, they generously hosted students from abroad, who couldn’t travel home during holidays. Many of these students remained in touch with the Chens long afterwards.
Dr. Chen was a dedicated and skilled duplicate bridge player, attaining the rank of a Life Master. He and Han Lin competed in bridge tournaments in and around Carbondale and during their travels. He was a member of the Lions club and enjoyed flipping pancakes on Pancake Day.
Dr. Chen and Han Lin maintained strong ties to SIU after their retirement. They were generous supporters, working with SIU to establish several scholarships funds. One of the funds provided undergraduate scholarships, assistance to young faculty members, and sponsorships to guest speakers.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by his children David (Betsy Connors), John (Stephanie Giggetts), Jeanne (Bob Dolbinski), and Susy Chen and his three grandchildren Darcy Chen, Cody Chen, and Morrison Giggetts.
Due to Covid 19 safety guidelines, the immediate family will be meeting privately. If anyone wants to express their condolences, there will be a memorial book and brochure and socially distanced visitation at the at the Walker Funeral Home in Carbondale, Friday February 12th, beginning at 12:00 P.M.
In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to the SIU Foundation for the Juh Wah and Han Lin Chen Endowed Scholarship Fund, Colyer Hall, 1235 Douglas Drive, Carbondale, Il