Professor Diana Wu 1936–2014

Professor Diana Ting Wu.Diana Ting Wu passed away peacefully in Alamo, Calif. on May 22, 2014, with her family at her side.

Wu was born in Shanghai in 1936, where she spent her early years until her family fled to Hong Kong during World War II. After coming to the United States in 1958, she earned an undergraduate degree in accounting and went on to obtain her MBA from New York University in 1961. She relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area after graduating from NYU, worked in the business world and at UC Berkeley. During that time she and her husband, George, raised two daughters, Gloria and Greta, and a son, Daniel. Professor Wu went on to pursue her doctorate in organizational psychology from the Wright Institute in 1980.

Soon after completing her graduate work, she began her academic career at Saint Mary's in 1981. Her leadership ability was readily apparent. Within five years, she became the first woman and first person of color to lead the Business Administration Department, which she chaired from 1986 to 1989.

Last June Wu was named Emeritus Professor in the School of Business and Administration in recognition of more than 30 years of outstanding academic service to the College during which she taught all of the core courses in the School of Economics and Business Administration. One of her colleagues wrote in a letter of support of her emeritus status that she was one of the most versatile and enthusiastic educators he had ever met, teaching a wide variety of classes both in the business and accounting departments. Wu was also committed to the Saint Mary’s tradition of shared inquiry and was one of the first business school professors to teach in the Collegiate Seminar Program.

Wu’s academic research reflected her deep interest in the need for businesses to comprehend the importance of diversity in the workforce, with her early research projects examining women and minorities in contemporary organizations, business behavior in Pacific Rim countries. Later she turned her attention to human resources concerns for globally interdependent workforces and the importance of resolving ethical dilemmas and promoting social responsibilities in the rapidly changing business environment.

In 1997, Wu published the book Asian Pacific Americans in the Workplace—a collection of case studies, personal accounts and interviews that focused on the unique position of Asian Pacific Americans in U.S. workplace. Throughout her academic career, she forged connections across the Pacific Rim. She was one of the first “Overseas Chinese” to visit her hometown of Shanghai after Deng Xiaoping initiated an opening of the People’s Republic in the late 1970s. In 1984, the Chinese Academy of Sciences invited Wu to give lectures in several Chinese cities on American business management.

Professor Diana Ting Wu.Professor Wu was the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including Fulbright Senior Specialists awards, the Dean’s Award "For providing exceptional service to the Asian Pacific American Community of Saint Mary's College," the Lasallian Award, the Saint John Baptist De La Salle Award and the 1997 “Leadership Award” from the Asian Pacific American Community of San Francisco.

Her service to the College was substantial, contributing immensely to its academic direction by serving on the Academic Senate and various committees, including the president's task force for minority presence on campus, faculty development, technology and facilities planning, admissions and many others.

As a regent for the College she was a strong advocate for Saint Mary’s, in particular for SEBA and was instrumental in recruiting management consultant, alumna and former student Meg Shea to the board of regents. A member of the President’s Club, she donated generously to the College, supporting various initiatives and student scholarships.

Professor Wu also had a genuine soft spot for the Brothers. For at least a decade, she would host a dinner for them at a Chinese restaurant in Walnut Creek. She also sponsored a trip to China, inviting Brothers and faculty members to join her on a fascinating tour of the cities of Beijing, Xian and her hometown of Shanghai.  

In recognizing the contributions Wu made to the College, we appreciate her today as a true Saint Mary’s treasure.