Professor Emeritus Kenny K. Chan, who taught marketing for more than 30 years, passed away December 28. He was 67.
Born September 10, 1955, in Hong Kong, he completed his primary and secondary education and worked at a television studio producing commercials where his interest in marketing first started. Chan later went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in social psychology from Tufts University, then an MBA and PhD in business administration from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Chan arrived in the Department of Finance and Marketing at Chico State in 1985, where his passions for teaching and scholarship in his discipline earned him the respect of his colleagues and students alike. Welcoming, compassionate, and generous with his time and expertise in helping others, he provided strong mentorship and support to junior faculty and students.
“Whether it was academic research or office politics, he brought energy and enthusiasm to the discussion and remarkable maturity,” said Finance Professor Emeritus Richard Raj Ponarul. “His was a mix of the wisdom of an old person and the energy of a child.”
Colleagues recall that Chan was a productive scholar, exemplary teacher, and an attentive contributor to both the University and the greater community. Hired at the same time as Professor Emerita Christine Hsu, she said he became not only a respected colleague but a dear family friend.
“He was a man of integrity, compassion, and humor,” she said. “I have been showered with his kindness, wisdom, and positive energy since the year we both joined the department. He was a great scholar and wonderful friend.”
From 2009–2014, Chan proudly served two terms as department chair. In addition to serving as the faculty advisor for the Chico chapter of the American Marketing Association, he was honored to be recognized by the College of Business as its Outstanding Researcher and as Outstanding Student Organization Advisor at various points during his esteemed career.
Chan served his students with the utmost devotion and took pride in earning the Outstanding Student Advisor Award from the Associated Students organization. As one of his former students, marketing professor Tim Heinze was thrilled to eventually become a faculty member in the same department.
“His energy and enthusiasm for the subject matter were infectious, and his remarkable positivity engaged me in a way that few other professors were able. Years later, I wound up working with Kenny as a colleague and found him to be no less inspiring. He candidly coached me through the intricacies of office politics, and he set a marvelous example of integrity and excellence in his daily dealings with colleagues, students, and administrators,” Heinze said. “He once described himself as an ‘introvert who likes people,’ and I have learned a great deal from him regarding how to serve and love others while also being an introvert.”
Though Chan retired in 2014, he continued to be an influential educator and colleague through the Faculty Early Retirement Program through 2019.
“Whenever someone or something needs assistance, he was always one of the first to be there doing whatever he could to take the lead and support with his endless energy, great talent, and persistent generosity,” said English Professor Emeritus Aiping Zhang. “My memories of Kenny’s kindness, wit, and smile will live on forever.”
In addition to academia, Chan was deeply involved in the Chinese and Asian communities, especially the annual Chinese New Year celebrations. He and his wife, Monica, also started a Chico Community Scholarship Association fund for deserving high school students.
His family describes him as a renaissance man of many hobbies who was never scared of trying something new. He was especially fond of woodworking and was taking classes to further his craft while also building beautiful furniture for the house. He enjoyed many sports, including skiing, tennis, karate, and tai-chi, and he stayed fit swimming and taking fitness classes. He loved traveling the world with his wife and scuba-dived in exotic places around the globe. At home, he enjoyed cooking and baking for his family and training his dog, Misty.
He is survived by his wife, Monica, sons Terence and Elliot, and daughters-in-law Lisa and Camille. In the spirit of Chan’s generosity, the family asks that any memorial contributions be made in his name to the National Pancreatic Cancer Foundation.
A viewing will be held Saturday, January 21, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Diablo Valley Funeral Home at 1390 Monument Boulevard in Concord, California. A virtual viewing will also be available for those unable to attend in person. Photos or memorial tributes of Chan can be sent to Terence Chan at email@example.com.
The University flag will be lowered in his memory Wednesday, January 11.