Opened in 2016, the Ruth Mulan Chu Chao Center serves as a vibrant hub of campus life for those attending HBS Executive Education programs, complementing our classroom buildings and residences. Here, executives can be welcomed to campus, grab a coffee or a meal, continue conversations started in the classroom, organize small-group meetings, or simply take a break. By design, the building's architecture relates both to the traditional structures of the main HBS campus and also to the twenty-first century spirit of nearby Tata Hall. Inside, the Chao Center offers an open, spacious design created to inspire connection, conversation, and new ideas.

The HBS Guest Services team, which staffs the Chao Center front desk, will greet you on arrival, answer any questions, and provide concierge services throughout your stay on campus. The team is available to help you with anything you need, such as:

  • Directions to places on or off campus, restaurant advice, or finding a taxi
  • Package delivery
  • Maintenance or housekeeping issues, lost keys, or other residence hall issues
  • Laundry and dry cleaning
  • Non-emergency health issues—from headache remedies to finding a doctor

Top Questions from Program Participants: We asked our Guest Services team some of the most common questions participants ask them; their answers are below. If you have any questions while you're on campus, just ask!

What is the Chao Center used for? This is our favorite question! We like to think of the building as the unofficial student center for Executive Education. While it is primarily used by Executive Education participants, we encourage MBA students and the wider campus community to use the space and to connect with participants. Our Bridge Café is very popular with everyone. The building also is home to project rooms, conference and event spaces, and a cafeteria for Executive Education participants. In addition, the building includes a very large TV used to show sport games, graduation, events, and more.

For whom is the Chao Center named? The building is named for the late Ruth Mulan Chu Chao (1930-2007) an immigrant from China who, with her husband James Si-Cheng Chao, built a life in the U.S. and raised six daughters. It is the first building on campus named for a Chinese family and its extraordinary matriarch. After working as a sea captain, Mr. Chao earned an MBA and built a successful shipping and trading enterprise, the Foremost Group. His wife, a passionate believer in the equality of men and women and in women's education, achieved her own lifelong dream, earning a master's degree in Asian literature and history in her early 50s. She also passed on these values to her daughters. Four of the couple's daughters have graduated from Harvard Business School and one of them is now Foremost CEO.

Wanting to share the fruits of their success, the Chao family established the Foremost Foundation "to help young people access higher education and greater opportunities generally, while also supporting health care initiatives and U.S.-Asia cultural exchanges." In 2012, the Chao family donated US$40 million to Harvard Business School, supporting the construction of the Ruth Mulan Chu Chao Center and endowing a scholarship fund for students of Chinese heritage. The gift was announced at the 2013 celebration of the 50th anniversary of HBS first admitting women to the MBA program.

You can learn more about the Chao family and the Ruth Mulan Chu Chao Center in two videos: The Ruth Mulan Chao Center and The Ruth Mulan Chao Center (Building Dedication).

Chao center multi-level gathering space

Where is the gym/Shad? And where can I go running? Shad Hall is located across the relatively compact HBS Campus at 70 North Harvard Street. Visit the facility for classes and outreach initiatives that encourage wellness and fitness, along with a multipurpose gym, indoor track, cardio and weight room, racquet courts, locker rooms, and exercise studios. During good weather, many participants like to go running along the Charles River. No matter which direction or side of the river you choose, beautiful scenery awaits!

What is the mailing address for packages? Always check with Guest Services for details on arranging package delivery. Use this address:

[Your name]
[Your program name]
Harvard Business School
Chao Center
25 Harvard Way
Boston, MA 02163

Where is the COOP located on the HBS Campus? The Harvard Business School campus store, known as the COOP, is located on the lower level of the Spangler Center, the main student center for the MBA program. The hours of operation are Monday through Friday, from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. The large COOP in Harvard Square at 1400 Massachusetts Avenue also should not be missed.

Can I pick up a COVID test at the Chao Center? Where can I drop it off? COVID tests can be picked up and dropped off at many buildings throughout campus: Chao, Spangler, Shad, Aldrich (Security Desk), and Rock Center. In the Chao Center, you can drop tests off in the gray bins in the lobby, by the Ruth Chao bronze statue. Tests are picked up in the morning, afternoon, and evenings.

Chao Center Hours Guest Services are available at the Chao Center Front Desk:
SUN-THU: 7:00 AM–8:00 PM
FRI: 7:00 AM–9:00 PM
SAT: 7:00 AM–5:00 PM

You can reach us by phone at +1.617.495.8888 or email Guest Services.

About the Author

Julia Shotwell is the Senior Front Office Manager–Guest Services for Harvard Business School, Executive Education.