HKBU to confer honorary doctoral degrees upon three distinguished individuals

Thursday, 19 October 2023

Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) will confer honorary doctoral degrees upon three distinguished individuals in recognition of their outstanding professional accomplishments and remarkable contributions to society.

The Conferment Ceremony is scheduled to take place in November, during which Dr Ann Hui On-wah will be awarded the degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa; Professor Rao Yi will receive the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa; and Ms Alice N Y Woo will be granted the degree of Doctor of Humanities, honoris causa.

Dr Ann Hui On-wah (Doctor of Letters, honoris causa)

Dr Ann Hui On-wah is a renowned filmmaker whose influence is not only measured in box office metrics. Her work also acts as a cultural bridge, drawing global audiences into the stories that define Hong Kong’s distinctive identity.

With a portfolio of over 30 directorial credits, Dr Hui has created an impressive body of work spanning a wide range of genres, from TV drama and documentary to ghost stories, thrillers, martial arts, costume dramas, comedies, and literary romances. Dr Hui’s films are reflections of the society she has lived in. Through her lens, Dr Hui has given a voice to the voiceless, spotlighting the marginalised and overlooked. Her unique style has consistently challenged norms and pushed boundaries. She has provided a platform for the stories of Hong Kong to be told with authenticity and respect.

Dr Hui's exceptional contributions to the film industry have been recognised with a host of awards, including six Best Director awards at the Hong Kong Film Awards and three at the Golden Horse Awards. In 2020, she received the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice International Film Festival. Through her teaching roles at HKBU and other local institutions, she has shared her knowledge and experience, shaping the minds of young filmmakers and ensuring the future vibrancy of the film industry.

Professor Rao Yi (Doctor of Science, honoris causa)

Professor Rao Yi is a major builder of science and education in China. Throughout the last 20 plus years, he has been involved in reforming or establishing academic and educational institutions in Chinese science and education.

In 2007, Professor Rao became the Dean of the School of Life Sciences at Peking University. He ensured talented scientists could focus on research by establishing the tenure track, insisted that the performance of academics must be peer-reviewed internationally, and set a high academic standard for hiring and firing. He established the Peking-Tsinghua Center for Life Sciences, the IDG/McGovern Institute for Brain Research at Peking University, the Chinese Institute for Brain Research, Beijing, and the Chinese Institutes for Medical Research, Beijing. Professor Rao’s research initially focused on using genetics and molecular biology to study neural development. Over the past few years, he pioneered the approach of biochemistry in dissecting molecular mechanisms of sleep. In 2000, he was awarded the Esther A. and Joseph Klingenstein Fellowship. Six years later, he became the first Elsa A. Swanson Research Professor at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University.

Professor Rao also played a significant role in recognising scientific talent. He is a founding member of the Science Committee of the Future Science Prize, a co-founder of the Xplorer Prize, and a founding member for the New Cornerstone Investigators Program.

Ms Alice N Y Woo (Doctor of Humanities, honoris causa)

Ms Alice N Y Woo is a dedicated and inspirational philanthropist, influenced by the rooted tradition of philanthropy in the Woo family. She has been devoting decades-long efforts in supporting the development of education and medicine in Hong Kong, Mainland China and the US.

Ms Woo established the Vincent & Lily Woo Foundation in Hong Kong and the Vincent V. C. Woo Memorial Foundation in the US. Her US-China education exchange program, America Bridges China (ABC), was a life-changing experience for many participants. She was awarded the “10 Most Significant Educators” by the Wuxi Education Bureau. For decades, the Vincent & Lily Woo Foundation has been supporting key projects which contribute to education and health for the well-being of the community. These include travel exchange programmes for university students; Shakespeare for All, a programme to improve English proficiency and boost students’ confidence through performances; an endowed fund with Dance With Depression to provide free counselling; and an endowed fellowship with Modernized Chinese Medicine International Association for research projects by graduate students.


As a strong believer in Chinese medicine, Ms Woo supported collaborative “East Meets West” research project of HKBU’s School of Chinese Medicine with Cornell University, and established the Vincent V. C. Woo Associate Professorship in Chinese Medicine. Most significantly,  with the generous support of the Foundation, the Vincent V.C. Woo Chinese Medicine Clinical Research Institute was founded, with an inauguration date set for 15 November, 2023.

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(From left) Dr Ann Hui On-wah, Professor Rao Yi and Ms Alice N Y Woo.