"It must be remembered that what are orthodox and acceptable today were
in many cases unorthodox or even radical when they were first brought forth,
and that it is the ability to challenge the status quo which often results in human progress.
In this way the university will serve as the fountain-head of inspiration for new knowledge and discovery,
and at the same time the critic and conscience of society." - Rayson Huang*
Members of the University of Hong Kong mourn with heavy heart the passing of Dr Rayson Huang, CBE, DSc, LLD, JP, the 10th Vice-Chancellor of HKU, peacefully on April 8, 2015 in the United Kingdom.
We honour the memory of Dr Huang and remember him as the University's first Chinese Vice-Chancellor, the first alumnus to hold the position and also one of the longest serving (1972-1986).
Growing up in Hong Kong, he attended Munsang College, a Christian school of which his father was headmaster. He entered HKU in 1938 on a scholarship and graduated in 1942. During the occupation, he escaped to China and, after teaching chemistry for two years, went to Oxford in 1944. After receiving a doctorate in 1947, Dr Huang pursued post-doctoral research at the University of Chicago. He joined the University of Malaya in 1951, where he served as Professor of Chemistry and Dean of Science, and became Vice-Chancellor of Nanyang University in Singapore in 1969.
Dr Huang was conferred the degree of Doctor of Science honoris causa from HKU in 1968, and became Vice-Chancellor of the University in 1972. Dr Huang was a pioneer in many ways, and under his leadership, HKU experienced an unprecedented period of growth on numerous fronts - doubling the size of our student body, broadening the scope of our academic disciplines by increasing the number of Faculties from five to nine, expanding the size of the campus while unifying it, and initiating a culture of institutional advancement that continues to flourish today.
Dr Huang will also be remembered by many in Hong Kong for the contributions he made to public service, especially as a member of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong (1977-1983) and in serving on the Basic Law Drafting Committee for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. He also actively contributed to the development of the higher education sector in the Mainland, particularly in the establishment of Shantou University.
At the University of Hong Kong, we salute the life and achievements of Dr Huang - an exceptional alumnus, colleague, teacher and friend. We will always regard Dr Huang as a member of the HKU family, and we offer our deepest condolences to his family.
The University of Hong Kong
* Rayson Huang, A Lifetime in Academia (Hong Kong: HKU Press, 2000), 147-48.