Ms Alice N Y Woo
Doctor of Humanities, honoris causa (2023)
Philanthropy is a rooted tradition in the Woo family. Ms. Alice Woo’s father, the late Mr. Vincent V. C. Woo was a legendary entrepreneur and a well-known philanthropist from Qiaoqi village, Jiangyin City, Jiangsu Province, China. At age 19, he went to Shanghai as an apprentice in a textile factory. His diligence, vision, and persistence enabled him to build his textile business in the turbulent times of the 1930s–1940s. In 1946, he set up scholarships at Qiaoqi Elementary School and built a road which was named after him by the community. In 1949, Mr. Woo relocated his family to Hong Kong and re-established his textile enterprise in this new land. He also broadened his philanthropic work, focusing on education and medicine. In 2001, the name of the road was the key that led Ms. Woo to find the school and her relatives where she learned about her ancestral history.
Being the only girl sandwiched between four brothers, Ms. Woo and her father had an extremely close relationship. She inherited her father’s generosity, compassion, and dedication to social well-being. She has been living by her father’s motto, “What you benefited from society, you must share with society”. Hence, she established the Vincent & Lily Woo Foundation in Hong Kong and the Vincent V. C. Woo Memorial Foundation in the US.
Through her decades-long efforts in supporting the development of education and medicine in Hong Kong, China, and the USA, Ms. Woo proves herself a dedicated and inspirational philanthropist. Her US-China education exchange program, America Bridges China (ABC), brought US teachers and students to run English summer camps at Qiaoqi Experimental Elementary School, and supported Qiaoqi teachers and students to visit San Francisco for cultural and academic exchanges. This is an eye-opening experience for many participants. The school won multiple awards due to the success of the ABC program, all to the credit of Ms. Woo’s dedicated involvement. She was awarded the title of Honorary Principal by Qiaoqi Experimental Primary School in 2008 and the following year received a “Ten Most Significant Educators Award” from the Wuxi Education Bureau.
Ms. Woo obtained her bachelor’s degree at the University of California, Davis, and her master’s degree at Cornell University. As a loyal alumna, the Vincent V. C. Woo Memorial Foundation endowed the following: Vincent V. C. Woo Scholarship for Hong Kong students at UC Davis; Vincent V. C. Woo professorship and fellowship at the Fiber Science and Apparel Design department of Cornell University. Residing near Stanford University, several Vincent V. C. Woo endowments were established, including a directorship at the Neuroscience Institute, a professorship at the Psychiatry Department, fellowships at the Bioengineering Department, and an education fund at the Center for Asian Health Research and Education (CARE).
For decades, the Vincent & Lily Woo Foundation supported the Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s travel exchange program for textile students as well as “Shakespeare for All”, a program to improve English proficiency and boost students’ confidence through performances. In addition, an endowed fund was set up with “Dance With Depression” to provide free counselling. Last year, an endowed fellowship was set up with “Modernized Chinese Medicine International Association” (MCMIA) for research projects by graduate students. These are some key projects of Ms. Woo’s contributions to education and health for the well-being of our community.
As a strong believer in Chinese medicine, Ms. Woo hopes to help elevate it to a higher level in the world of medicine internationally. She was impressed that the HKBU School of Chinese Medicine is ranked among the best in the world. Hence, the Vincent & Lily Woo Foundation supported the meaningful collaborative research project, “East Meets West: A Revolutionized Nanotechnology Approach to Modernize the Delivery of Chinese Medicine for Vastly Improved Cancer Therapeutic Efficacy” by Professor Bian of HKBU and Professor C. C. Chu of Cornell University in 2018. This was followed by the endowment of the Vincent V. C. Woo Associate Professorship in Chinese Medicine in 2019. The most significant project of all was the founding of the “Vincent V. C. Woo Chinese Medicine Clinical Research Institute”, which was inaugurated last week on November 15, 2023.
In recognition of her unwavering devotion and commitment to social well-being, her inspirational philanthropic efforts, and as an impactful member of our society, HKBU is pleased to honor Ms. Alice Woo Doctor of Humanities, honoris causa.