Chung Chi-yung: tributes to 'selfless' principal of first private university

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 March, 2014, 5:13am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 March, 2014, 5:23pm

Dr Au Wing-kwong might have ended up following a completely different path if he had not been given the chance to study at Hong Kong's first and only private university by its co-founder, who died on Sunday aged 93.

"My mind went blank when I heard principal Chung passed away," said Au, 52, now head of the university's social work department. "It was so sudden."

To those who knew her, Dr Chung Chi-yung, vice-president and principal of Shue Yan University, was not just a selfless educator; she was always ready to lend anyone a helping hand.

Au did not have a father and started working on the docks when he was 18. A Shue Yan professor who knew him told Chung his story, and she decided to let him study social work.

Chung, a doctor of law and reportedly China's first female judge, was heading the social work department at that time due to a lack of staff, and she later wrote a letter of recommendation for Au so he could continue his studies in Britain.

"Principal Chung was a very responsible teacher and she cared about her students a lot," said Au, who, after returning to Hong Kong in 1997 from Britain, could not find a job and was recruited by Chung.

"She gave me a lot of opportunities and made it possible for me to become department head at a young age."

Professor Leung Tin-wai, head of the journalism and communications department, also said Chung was dedicated to her students. When he was news chief at TVB, Chung often urged him to reserve some internships and jobs for Shue Yan students.

"She spent all her wealth on the university," Leung said. "She lived in the university staff quarters to the end and had barely anything of her own."

Chung and her husband of 69 years, Dr Henry Hu Hung-lick, founded Shue Yan College in Sing Woo Road, Happy Valley, in 1971.

In 1977, the college acquired a seven-storey building on Monmouth Path, Wan Chai, to accommodate its growing number of students, pending the completion of its permanent premises granted by the colonial government at Braemar Hill. With substantial financial and personal support from the couple, it became a university in 2006.

Cheung Kit-wah, now working in the university's printing room, started as a doorman at the college in 1985, after moving from the mainland. He said he once lost his wallet with almost everything he had in it, and Chung gave the newcomer HK$1,000.

Both Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and Secretary for Education Eddie Ng Hak-kim also praised Chung's selflessness.

Chung was born in Changsha , Hunan , on July 29, 1920.

She graduated in law at National Wuhan University in 1944, before being deployed to Sichuan as a judge.

The next year, she married Hu and they moved to France, where Chung earned a doctorate in law. In 1955, they moved to Hong Kong. In recognition of her contribution to higher education, Chung was awarded a Gold Bauhinia Star in 2000.

Chung's health had deteriorated since 2001 when she had a stroke. She is survived by her husband and two sons, who are also vice-presidents of the university.

Chung's funeral wake will take place at the Hong Kong Funeral Home in North Point on March 25.

A public memorial will be held at the university's Braemar Hill campus on March 29.