Dr Lee Shiu
Honorary University Fellow (2020)
Dr Lee Shiu, Chairman of Lee Shiu Family Foundation and an educational philanthropist well known among Hong Kong’s universities, is a man of admirable qualities who inspires great affection. Years after his retirement he remains concerned about the future of the next generation. When asked about the most important message he wants to share with teenagers nowadays, he said, “Love Hong Kong. Love China, our country”.
Dr Lee’s hometown is in Zhongshan, Guangdong, but he was born and raised in Hong Kong. He completed his early education in Hong Kong, Macao and Guangzhou. He pursued graduate studies at the University of California at Berkeley, where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Chemical Engineering. He then moved on to Yale University, where he obtained his MSc and PhD in Chemistry.
Following his academic pursuits in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, he started his career in the paint manufacturing industry in Hong Kong. This was followed by a second career in education during which he taught at Chung Chi College, now part of The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), and Ohio Northern University in the USA. Dr Lee also spent five years doing research work at DuPont De Nemours & Company in Rochester, New York, before returning to Hong Kong in 1970 to take up the family business.
Dr Lee did exceedingly well both in his academic pursuits and career development. He attributes his success to two key factors: hard work and innovation. Thus he urges young people not to rely on fate or luck. It takes sweat, determination and hard work to turn a dream into reality. Dr Lee has been a firm believer in “innovation” long before the term became popular in Hong Kong, for he knows well that “innovation” unlocks potential, drives positive changes and promotes success.
As the son of the late Dr Lee Iu-cheung, a prominent business tycoon and a well-known philanthropist during the last century, Dr Lee is greatly influenced by his father’s sense of responsibility and actions. He shares his father’s commitment to serving the community and building a better future for Hong Kong and our country. Among his various charity endeavours, Dr Lee gives education the highest priority. Since the 1990s, he has donated generously to local universities to sponsor different academic activities as well as scholarships and prizes. He has also initiated and sustained forward-looking projects that offer unique learning experiences to students in Hong Kong and the Mainland. In addition to financial support, he actively engages in all those student activities – as an event planner, as a speaker, as a mentor, as a judge and even as a tour guide. He wants to make sure that all the projects are well managed and that they achieve the desired aims.
Seeing that Hong Kong would be returned to its Motherland in 1997, he immediately thought of the importance of bringing the young people in the Mainland to meet their counterparts in Hong Kong, so they could learn about Hong Kong’s culture and how Hong Kong became such a successful city. One year later, the Lee Shiu Summer Programme was created and co-run respectively by The University of Hong Kong (Lee Shiu Socio-Economic Study), Lingnan University (Lee Shiu Summer Institute) and CUHK (Lee Shiu Centre of Intercultural Learning). Twenty-four of these programmes had taken place by 2018 at the Programme’s 20th Anniversary. Unfortunately, the following year the programme was terminated by the unexpected outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
Some other philanthropic programmes Dr Lee embraced are still running. They include the Legal Education Fund, the Kam Lee Lim Scholarship Alumni Association in China, the ELIC (English Language Institute in China), and most recently, the Love Foundation founded in Hong Kong six years ago.
However, of all the programmes Dr Lee has organised or promoted, he admitted he was most proud of the “China Nationwide Tertiary Level Essay Contest”, which HKBU carried out for him under the able leadership of the then President Daniel Tse in 1999. Realising that China was once the leading innovative nation in the world inventing printing and gunpowder, etc, but her creativities slacked in 19th and 20th centuries, Dr Lee initiated the Essay Contest with an aim to stimulate Chinese young minds to develop in science and technology as well as the field of economics, which would be the key to building a modern China. The idea was supported by 30 renowned universities and the Ministry of Education in mainland China. More than 200 quality and inspiring entries were received, and Dr Lee’s wake-up call convinced many smart students to re-think their career plans.
According to Dr Lee, there is no need for his beneficiaries to reciprocate. They just need to give back to society. A committed Christian, he has taken to heart the words of the Lord Jesus: It is more blessed to give than to receive. God has blessed Dr Lee financially, and he chooses not to raise his standard of living, but rather, to raise his level of giving.
Dr Lee started to leave his footprints at HKBU in the 1990s. He and his wife Dr Jennie Yee-ching Lee are Honorary Permanent Presidents of the HKBU Foundation. Apart from generously supporting various endeavours of the University over the years, he also provided wise counsel on the University’s governance and development as a member of the Court from 1999 to 2005. There he continuously made suggestions for improvement in the teaching of English, hoping the students could be proficient in English when they graduate. His involvement with HKBU has never ceased and he had continued to work closely with the three Presidents succeeding Dr Daniel Tse.
A close friend of HKBU, Dr Lee, now 91, still wishes to share his stories and expectations with students, with a view to inspiring them to do well and do good as citizens. With the wisdom of a scholar and a successful businessman, and the love of an understanding heart, he certainly can offer young people amazing insights and advice, refresh their souls, and be their rainbow on stormy days.