2 October 2018

In Memory of Professor Sir Charles Kao 1933 — 2018

Professor Sir Charles Kao, GBM, KBE, the third Vice-Chancellor, Honorary Professor of Engineering, and Doctor of Science, honoris causa, of The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), Nobel Laureate in Physics, passed away on 23 September 2018, at the age of 84. CUHK is profoundly saddened and conveys its deepest condolences to his family.

As the pioneer of the application of fibre optics in the area of communications technologies, Professor Kao is recognised worldwide as the ‘Father of Fibre Optics’. In 1966, he developed the principles of fibre optics which later turned out to have epoch-making impact and eventually ushered in the age of the internet. He was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physics for his accomplishment in the development of fibre optic technologies that changed the world. He was also awarded The Prince Philip Medal by the Royal Academy of Engineering in 1996 in recognition of his scientific achievements, and was knighted in 2010.

Professor Kao was a visionary leader in higher education. He joined CUHK in 1970 as Reader and the founding Chair of the Department of Electronics (later renamed the Department of Electronic Engineering), and was appointed as the first Professor of Electronics. He was conferred the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa, by CUHK in 1985.  He was Vice-Chancellor of CUHK from 1987-1996. During his term as Vice-Chancellor, Professor Kao’s visionary insight resulted in the establishment of the Faculty of Engineering and the Faculty of Education and a number of research institutes, laying a firm academic infrastructure for CUHK to develop into a world-class comprehensive research-driven institution of higher learning.  He brought to completion the establishment of the University’s fourth Constituent College, Shaw College. Upon his retirement, Professor Kao was appointed Honorary Professor of Engineering. 

Professor Kao’s scientific and technological contributions continue to be praised by the world for the lasting changes they have brought to communication for humankind, for bringing human beings closer together, and for significant changes to society, all of which are part of Professor Kao’s legacy to the world.

Professor Kao is survived by his wife, Lady Gwen, children Simon and Amanda and three grandchildren. The wake and the funeral will take place at 3:00 pm on 7 October 2018 (Sunday) and at 10:30 am on 8 October 2018 (Monday), respectively, at 1/F, the Hong Kong Funeral Home in North Point, Hong Kong. In lieu of flowers, the Kao family would appreciate donations being made to CUHK’s Charles K. Kao Scholarship Endowment Fund (please make the cheque payable to “The Chinese University of Hong Kong”) or Charles K. Kao Foundation for Alzheimer’s Disease (please make the cheque payable to "Charles K. Kao Foundation for Alzheimer's Disease Limited").

Charles K. Kao Scholarship Endowment Fund: 
Charles K. Kao Foundation for Alzheimer’s Disease Limited: