Dear Colleagues, Students and Alumni,
I have great pleasure in bringing to you the happy news that Professor Charles K. Kao, our former Vice-Chancellor, has been awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physics by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences for his "groundbreaking achievements concerning the transmission of light in fibres for optical communication". This is truly great news for all of us at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, in Hong Kong, in China, and indeed to all Chinese around the world. On behalf of all the faculty, students and alumni of CUHK, I would like to extend our heartfelt congratulations to Professor Kao and Mrs. Kao. We at the University are humbled by the honour that we are privileged to share.
Professor Kao is known as the "Father of Fibre optics". He developed the principles of fibre optics with his own insight and turned optical fibre communication into reality, eventually heralding the age of the Internet. The high-speed network communication that is now such an integral part of modern living owes much to Professor Charles Kao, the trailblazer.
Professor Kao's relationship with CUHK goes back almost 40 years. In 1970, he joined the then Department of Electronics as a professor and head of department. The next four years saw him laying the foundation for its programmes. He became the first Professor of Electronics at CUHK.
From 1987 to 1996, Professor Kao led the University through a period of steady development as Vice-Chancellor. Under his leadership, CUHK implemented a flexible credit system and revamped the undergraduate curriculum. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Faculty of Engineering and the Faculty of Education, and raised the quality of the education offered at CUHK. New research institutes were established and interdisciplinary research initiatives launched. The communication network on campus was enhanced to connect with the wider world. Links with international seats of learning as well as industry were strengthened. Professor Kao has made pivotal contributions to the international reputation in teaching and research that CUHK enjoys today.
In 1985, the Chinese University awarded the degree of Doctor of Science honoris causa to Professor Kao in recognition of his leadership of scientific research at the University and the enhancement of its international standing. Since retiring as vice-chancellor, Professor Kao has continued his association with CUHK as an Honorary Professor of Engineering. CUHK has named the north wing of the Science Centre as the Charles Kuen Kao Building and set up the Charles Kuen Kao Fund to support academic research, international links and student activities. Professor Kao cares so deeply for the University that he has generously donated to CUHK all of the 17 medals awarded to him for his scientific and technological achievements.
No words can adequately describe our admiration for Professor Kao. I am sure you all share my joy and would wish to join me in congratulating Professor and Mrs. Kao and their family.
Lawrence J. Lau
6 October 2009