Frances Wu

A gift from the heart

Frances Wu – the first Chinese scholar to receive a doctorate from the School of Social Work – has given the school its first endowed chair. To her, it represents the fulfillment of a dream.

RETIRED MONTEREY PARK social worker Frances Wu, who is the founder and president of the Chinese-American Golden Age Association, has given $1.5 million to fund the first endowed chair in the School of Social Work.
Her gift will establish the Chinese-American Golden Age Association-Dr. Frances Wu Endowed Chair in the school.
“This endowed chair will enable us to give enhanced attention to an important ethnic group in Los Angeles,” said President Steven B. Sample. “In addition, it signifies a milestone in the growing academic stature of the school.”

WU IS USC’S first recipient of a doctoral degree in social work with a specialization in gerontology and administration, and the first Chinese scholar to receive a D.S.W. from the school.
The creation of the endowed chair is a fulfillment of her lifelong efforts to provide programs and services that address the needs of elderly Chinese.
The chair endowed by Wu will build upon her decades of work with the Chinese-American community. Through a program of research and teaching, it will focus on better understanding the needs of elderly Chinese and developing innovative approaches to address issues such as long-term care, assisted living and the integration of health and social services with housing arrangements for the elderly.
FRANCES WU'S COMMITTMENT to social welfare began almost 50 years ago in Nanking, China, when she graduated from Ginling College with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and social work. After working in the field of child welfare for several years, she moved to Montreal, where she earned a master’s degree from McGill University, and then to New York City, where she treated emotionally disturbed youth and counseled parents for more than 15 years.
In New York, she spent a considerable amount of time in the Chinese-American community, especially with elderly immigrants, and became painfully aware of their plight.
“They described themselves as deaf and dumb,” she says. “During the 1960s there were no Chinese-language newspapers, television shows or social programs.”
Moved by their plight, she decided to dedicate her life to the elderly Chinese in this country.

SHE RELOCATED TO Southern California in 1971, and went back to school, with the help of a scholarship, at USC – the “oldest person in my class,” she says. Persevering, she earned her D.S.W. in 1974 and began the work that led to the fulfillment of her dream of a comprehensive program of service and care for the elderly. She organized the Chinese-American Golden Age Association, applied for a HUD loan with the help of USC’s Andrus Gerontology Center, and opened the Golden Age Village in Monterey Park in 1980. Since then she has added the Golden Age Manor, a 33-unit condominium complex, and, in 1994, the Golden Age Villas, offering 29 condominiums.
Since 1975, she has made more than 60 gifts to USC and has endowed the Frances Wu Scholarship in the School of Social Work.
“It doesn’t matter how much you give,” said Wu, who was recently awarded the School of Social Work’s Dean’s Award for Outstanding Community Service.
“What’s important is that it comes from your heart.”



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