68th Congregation (2010)
Dr. CHENG Wai-kin Edgar
Great skill and strategy, self-development through participation in public affairs: these words sum up Dr Edgar W K Cheng. Dr Cheng is a pre-eminent figure in commercial and financial circles in Hong Kong, a distinguished leader of society, and a senior cancer expert in the medical world. He is also a former Chairman of the CUHK Council and currently serves as a senior advisor to that body.
Dr Cheng, whose ancestors come from Chaoyang, Guangdong, was born in Hong Kong in 1943 during the Japanese occupation. Immediately after completing his secondary school education he studied in the US, where he graduated from the University of Notre Dame and the Medical College of Wisconsin, specializing in cancer research. Dr Cheng subsequently served as Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at Cornell University Medical College in the USA, and also worked at the renowned Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre in New York, where he undertook medical practice, teaching, and research work for many years, compiling a record of outstanding achievement and gaining vast experience in the clinical, education, and research fields.
At the end of 1987, Dr Cheng returned from the USA to Hong Kong to help run the family business and participate in public service. Since then, Dr Cheng has served without interruption as Chairman and Managing Director of the World-Wide Investment Company Limited. He has been active in commercial and financial securities circles and has simultaneously held important roles in government steering committees, listed companies and private company directorships. He has been Chairman of the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong, Vice Chairman and non-executive director of Hang Seng Bank Limited, Vice President of the International Federation of Stock Exchange, Founding Chairman of the Hong Kong Securities Institute, Chairman of the Steering Committee for the Establishment of the Financial Services Institute, Member of the Board of Directors of the Hong Kong Institute for Monetary Research, acquiring vast experience in and making a considerable contribution to the formulation and planning of finance operations and financial securities policy in Hong Kong.
At the same time, Dr Cheng has maintained a passion for public welfare, actively participates in civic affairs, and has offered advice and devoted a large amount of his time to social policy and public administration in Hong Kong and mainland China. Dr Cheng headed the Central Policy Unit of the HKSAR Government from 1999 to 2001 and provided the first HKSAR government with valuable advice in social, livelihood, political and economic policy spheres. He has also served as a member of both the Greater Pearl River Delta Business Council and the Commission on Strategic Development. In Hong Kong-Guangdong cooperation work, especially in terms of the integration, interaction, and development of the Hong Kong and Pearl River Delta economies, he has offered wise counsel and been a tireless campaigner. Dr Cheng has served as Chairman of the Council for Sustainable Development. Over the course of many years he provided invaluable advice on all aspects of sustainable development policy including economic, social, and environmental matters, as well as striving to raise the level of awareness and understanding of sustainable development principles among the general public. Currently, Dr Cheng is a member of the Judicial Officers Recommendation Commission.
Dr Cheng is an active participant in mainland China-Hong Kong affairs. He has served as Hong Kong Affairs Advisor to the PRC, as a member of the Preparatory Committee for the HKSAR of the National Congress and the Selection Committee for the First Government of the HKSAR, and a member of the 10th and 11th National Committees of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. Despite the crucial positions he holds and the weight of his responsibilities, Dr Cheng is modest and personable, and makes light of his heavy burden.
Dr Cheng has held official posts too numerous to mention, and due to his outstanding contribution to society was made Justice of the Peace by the Hong Kong Government in 1997 and awarded the Golden Bauhinia Star by the Government in 2002.
In addition to serving in official posts, Dr Cheng has devoted a large amount of his time and energy to higher education in Hong Kong. Since returning from the USA to Hong Kong, he has not wasted a moment in furthering the causes of education, scientific research, and academia. Dr Cheng has successively served as Chairman of the Hong Kong University Grants Committee, a member of the Education Commission, and a member of the Board of Governors of the East-West Centre, Hawaii, USA.
Dr Cheng succeeded Dr Lee Hon-chiu as Chairman of the Council from 2003 to 2009. Under his two-term leadership, CUHK developed and innovated in every aspect of its operations. First, the Faculty of Law was established and teaching centres in Central were acquired, after which a 10-year Strategic Plan was formulated, a campus development blueprint was drawn up, five focused areas of research were identified, efforts were also made to secure donations for CUHK, support was given to new colleges and all aspects of University development, research institutes were set up in Shenzhen, mainland student intake was implemented, and teaching and scientific research were aligned with international practice. These are all important milestones in the development of CUHK and symbolize its rapid development, internationalization and pursuit of excellence. Dr Cheng also guided the Council and University management in obtaining grants fundings from the University Grants Committee and government matching funding grants with a record of outstanding achievement. During this period, CUHK was recognized and praised by the University Grants Committee for the quality of its teaching, and its international reputation was progressively enhanced.
Dr Cheng has worked hard to promote student exchange, and since 2005, through the establishment of a scholarship fund, financial aid has been provided to exceptional mainland students to enable them to study undergraduate programmes in CUHK. To encourage CUHK students to participate in academic exchange programs at renowned universities overseas, Dr Cheng has worked extremely hard to establish a relationship with the University of Notre Dame in the US and have it entered into an undergraduate student exchange agreement with CUHK and set up a fund to support academic exchange and research between the two universities. Dr Cheng has also actively encouraged students to participate in overseas exchange programs, thereby allowing them to develop a broader global outlook. To date, over 60 students have been given financial support enabling them to participate in student exchange programs in about 14 countries around the world.
Dr Cheng has always cared deeply for students. Through the years he supported students to participate in leadership training courses and various arts and cultural activities, thereby allowing them to develop their all-round abilities. Dr Cheng also meets regularly with students, is concerned for their physical and mental development, instills a proper set of values in each of them personally. Students who benefit from his guidance are deeply impressed by his care and concern, and regard Dr Cheng as their life coach.
Dr Cheng has maintained close ties with CUHK upon his retirement from the position of Council Chairman. He is now senior adviser to the CUHK Council and Chairman of the Private Teaching Hospital Task Force. Dr Cheng’s acute foresight, broadmindedness, strategic planning ability, and leadership achievements are plain for all to see. He also attends to all his affairs personally, is modest in character, all-embracing, and balanced in all aspects of his life, and has earned great support and respect from CUHK colleagues and students.
The ancient scholar Koo Sin-ching, who cared for his family and country, passed the following antithetical couplet down the generations: “the sound of the wind, the sound of the rain, the sound of reading, all sounds reach my ears; family affairs, national affairs, world affairs, all affairs are worthy of concern”. It could even be said that this scholar’s spiritual framework and patriotism epitomize public intellectuals’ aspiration for change through their own efforts. As far as Dr Cheng is concerned, he could be described as a person who aspires to “care about national affairs, Hong Kong affairs, Chinese University affairs, all affairs”. He is a truly able man of social and moral conviction and has made an outstanding contribution to CUHK.
In recognition of his efforts and meritorious deeds on behalf of Hong Kong society, and for the outstanding contribution he has made to CUHK, Mr Chairman, may I present Dr Edgar W K Cheng, for the award of the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.
This is the translated version of the citation written by Professor Leung Yuen Sang