Citations and Speeches


112th Congregation (1981)

HUI Wai Haan
M.B.E., B.A., M.Sc. (Hong Kong)

The Public Orator Dr. Arnold Chia-Loh Hsieh, B.SC., M.D., D.SC., wrote and delivered the following citation:

To have served one institution for a span of forty years is no mean achievement and inevitably there are many, very many, who have come into contact with Miss Hui in this period and who have their own particular memory of her devotion to students, to chemistry, and to the University.

Miss Hui was born in Canton towards the end of the Ch'ing Dynasty. Brought as a babe-in-arms to Hong Kong, she has lived here ever since. She came from Belilios Public School to the University of Hong Kong. Graduating with a B.A. degree in 1932, she taught chemistry almost continuously from then until she retired in July 1973. The Japanese occupation of Hong Kong, which closed the University, broke the continuity and in this period she remained in Hong Kong to succour her parents and to work part of the time as a chemist in the New Asiatic Chemical Works, a Chinese firm making drugs for the local populace. Many students have come under her tutelage, none perhaps more distinguished as a scholar and a professional chemist than the present Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Rayson Huang. In the immediate post-war period she helped to re-establish the Chemistry Department and in the ensuing years to assist its growth.

By reason of her sex and the resources, attitudes, and responsibilities of the generation in which she initially worked, her ambition to engage in chemical research was not fulfilled until well after the war. In 1950, with the encouragement of the first post-war Professor of Chemistry, Professor J. E. Driver, she eventually fulfilled her ambition, commencing work on local plant materials. This work still continues, and will continue, as she is now an Honorary Research Fellow of the Faculty of Science and has, despite her retirement, retained her room and the working facilities to enable her to explore further local plant materials. It is significant that with the opportunity which retiring from teaching offers she has expanded her research activities rather than the opposite!

In 1954 she received the M.Sc. degree of this university for her work on Psidium Guaiva, and since then she has spent time overseas in Cambridge with Lord Todd and in Stanford, U.S.A., in Professor Carl Djerrassi's laboratories.

She was awarded the M.B.E. (Honorary) in the New Year's Honours List of 1968, an indication of the high regard the community has for her contribution to scholarship and devotion as a teacher.

It is with a note of sadness that we see Miss Hui retire, since she holds the key to much of the University; however, her determination to stay with us as a chemical colleague ensures that she will never be far away when we need to seek advice.

Her many colleagues and students from the past forty years thank her for her loyalty and devotion to the University in general and the Chemistry Department in particular and wish her every happiness and success in her retirement.