HF 3 

Professor Woo Chia-Wei was the founding President of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST). In his 13 years’ presidency, he built HKUST into a world-class university and a top-ranked university in Asia. After retirement he continues to serve the University as a President Emeritus and University Professor Emeritus.

Professor Woo was born in Shanghai, grew up in Hong Kong, and went to the US at the age of 17, where he acquired his BSc degree in Physics and Mathematics at Georgetown College, and his MA and PhD degrees in Physics at Washington University. After postdoctoral study at the University of California San Diego, he joined the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Northwestern University in 1968 as an Assistant Professor and became a Professor in 1973. He served as the Chairman of the Department from 1974-79. In 1979, he was appointed Provost and Professor of Physics at the University of California San Diego. In 1983, at the age of 45, he became President of San Francisco State University, the first Chinese-American to head a university in the US.

Professor Woo published over 120 papers and books in various fields of physics, including quantum many-body theory, statistical mechanics, liquid crystals, low temperature physics, and surface physics. Under his supervision 25 doctoral/postdoctoral students completed their research studies. He also published four books on his experiences in learning, teaching, and university administration.

Professor Woo received many honours and awards for his professional achievements and civic contributions, including the Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship; Fellowships of the American Physical Society and the California Academy of Sciences; Honorary Professorships at Peking University, Fudan University, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences; as well as Honorary Doctorates at Washington University, Georgetown College, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and Hong Kong Baptist University, just to name a few.

His civic honours include the Eleanor Roosevelt Humanitarian Award by the United Nations Association, a Golden Key by the City of San Francisco, “Chia-Wei Woo Day” by the Mayor of San Francisco, Honorary Citizenship by the Government of Shenzhen, Gold Bauhinia Star by the Government of Hong Kong, Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by the Queen of United Kingdom, and Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur by the President of France.

Professor Woo was once the President of the National Association of Chinese-Americans. When he returned to Hong Kong he served on a number of government committees, including the Commission on Strategic Development, Industry & Technology Development Council, Board of Overseers for the Institute of Biotechnology, and several other governing/advisory boards of educational foundations and cultural organizations. He was appointed by the Chinese Government first as a Hong Kong Affairs Advisor, then a Member of the Preparatory Committee for Hong Kong’s return to the motherland; and in 1998 he was appointed a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.

Mr Chairman, in view of Prof Woo’s distinguished achievements in education, his outstanding contributions in the promotion of science and technology, and his untiring service in advising the development of our country, it is my privilege and honour to present him to you for the award of an Honorary Fellowship.