Doctor of Social Sciences, honoris causa (2011)
Mr Joseph Lee has become one of the most recognizable names and inadvertent forerunners in the social entrepreneurial movement in Hong Kong. Current Chairman of Wofoo Foundation and Wofoo Plastics and Chemicals Group, President of Wofoo Social Enterprises, Mr Lee’s sense of belonging and ingrained commitment to Hong Kong as his homebase has seen him championing a unique call for “responsible citizenship” in his interesting journey as a community builder to achieve the vision of “Harmony brings a family prosperity, Cohesion makes a nation wealthy” (人和家富，民和國富).
Perhaps today more widely regarded as a community leader, Mr Lee’s contribution to society actually began as an industrialist. After completing his undergraduate degree in Business Administration at Illinois Institute of Technology in 1972, Mr Lee returned to Hong Kong after briefly working in the United States and Brazil to assist his parents’ business in plastics manufacturing. In 1980, Mr Lee decided to set up his own business while keeping Wofoo (和富) in the company name in belief that only through harmony could an organization prosper. With manufacturing plants in Shenzhen and Ningbo, Wofoo Plastics Limited has become one of the largest PVC compounders in Asia supplying world-renowned toy and cable manufacturers in Japan, Europe and the United States. Although today he spends less time in the daily management of the plastics business, Mr Lee still actively contributes to the larger business community through directorships in many business associations, including past chairmanships of the Hong Kong Chinese Importers’ and Exporters’ Association, and the Hong Kong Young Industrialists Council.
Demonstrating the importance of lifelong learning, often through serving, Mr Lee has built an active and distinguished career in public service. He has served on numerous government advisory committees including current Vice-Chairmanship of the Vocational Training Council, and chairmanships of the Committee on Promotion of Civic Education, and the Environment and Conservation Fund Committee. Since becoming one of the youngest District Governors of Rotary International District 3450 in 1989, Mr Lee served on the management boards of many civic organizations and schools including current appointments to Helping Hand, St John Ambulance Association, several local government-aided schools, and the Australian International School. Mr Lee has been elected and serves as Deputy of the HKSAR to the National People’s Congress of the PRC for three consecutive five-year terms. For his contribution to the community, he was awarded the Bronze Bauhinia Star, Justice of Peace, and Silver Bauhinia Star by the Hong Kong Government in 2000, 2003 and 2008 respectively.
Since establishing Wofoo Foundation in 1997, Mr. Lee piloted many “firsts” in support of the Hong Kong government’s policy innovations including Grace Nursing Home (Tak Tin) as the first private operator of a Social Welfare Department contract home, WF Joseph Lee Primary School as one of the first Direct Subsidy Scheme schools in the New Territories, and Wofoo Taipo Soccer Team when it was the first district-based team to be eligible to compete in the premier professional league. Distinct in being a locally-founded, cross-institutional, service and leadership student organization dedicated to promoting “responsible citizenship”, the first chapter of Wofoo Leaders’ Network was set up in partnership with our University’s Student Affairs Office. Through Mr Lee’s strong sense of responsibility to his service beneficiaries, incessant drive, contagious passion to serve, and natural ability to connect and engage with major stakeholders, he has a trademark approach to delivering high quality social services through the most innovative ways of utilizing resources, flexibly organized to quickly meet social needs—essentially “enterprising social services, and socializing enterprises”.
Mr Lee is a close friend and a staunch supporter of the University. He is a member of the Court of Hong Kong Baptist University, a Vice-Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Hong Kong Baptist University Foundation, and Chairman of the Advisory Committee of the Co-curricular Development Committee of the University, Mr Lee also supports many of the University’s research initiatives, including assisting the University to set up the Sino-Forest Applied Research Centre for Pearl River Delta, and funding research programmes of the School of Chinese Medicine and the Department of Mathematics.
Mr Lee is a visionary entrepreneur with astute management talents. Mr. Chairman, in view of Mr Joseph Lee’s passion for social and education services, his passionate support for the University’s development of Whole Person Education and research initiatives, it is my privilege to present him to you for the award of the degree of Doctor of Social Sciences, honoris causa.