Gillings School notes the passing of alumnus and friend Chen-Yu Yen

August 28, 2018

Dr. Chen-Yu Yen

Dr. Chen-Yu Yen

Chen-Yu Yen, PhD, 1983 alumnus of the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and member of the School’s Public Health Foundation board, died on Aug. 21. He was 66.

Yen, a resident of Rockville, Md., joined Gannett Fleming Inc. (GF), a national consulting engineering firm, in 1985 and remained there for more than 20 years, becoming the organization’s vice president. He also was senior vice president of GF Sustainable Ventures Corp. and chief executive officer of TerraSure Development LLC, a GF affiliate specializing in remediation and redevelopment of hazardous waste-contaminated sites. He held a patent for a method of treatment of contaminated soil and groundwater.

At the time of his death, he was serving as treasurer and board member for the Chinese Culture and Community Service Center Inc., in Gaithersburg, Md.

Philip Singer, PhD, professor emeritus of environmental sciences and engineering, is among the many who expressed sadness at Yen’s death.

“Chen was one of my best doctoral students,” Singer said, “and after graduation, he had a very successful professional career. He was a kind and generous community-minded man with a good heart, good spirit, and good outlook on life and what is important in life. He will be missed.”

Yen leaves behind his wife, Ray-Whay Chiu Yen, son May Jim Yen and daughter Angie Sue Yen.

Several years ago, the couple funded the Chen-Yu and Ray-Whay Yen Expendable Fellowship at the Gillings School. When asked why he chose to give in a way that benefited students, Yen replied with a statement that speaks to the man he was.

“We envision a world,” he said, “in which talented, educated people can become better stewards for our planet. The world faces many challenges. We need bright, highly educated and socially conscientious people to help us overcome these challenges. We are only doing our small part, but we hope to inspire others to do the same.”

A memorial service will be held Saturday, Sept. 29, at 3 p.m. at the Ruck Towson Funeral Home, 1050 York Road, Towson, Md. Friends may visit there with the family from 2 to 3 p.m.

Read more about Yen in a 2015 feature article in Carolina Public Health magazine.

An obituary announcement appeared in The Baltimore Sun.


Contact the Gillings School of Global Public Health communications team at

Recent News