Illini Everywhere: Hong Kong Illini, Since 1916

Since at least 1916, students from Hong Kong have been attending the University of Illinois. Early Hong Kong Illini have included agriculturalists, architects, agricultural engineers, business administrators, ceramic engineers, chemists, chemical engineers, civil engineers, dieticians, economists, electrical engineers, future medical doctors, historians, home economists, engineering physicists, mathematicians, microbiologists, student leaders, teachers, writers, and zoologists too.

Read on to learn more about early Hong Kong Illini!

Early Illinois – Hong Kong Connections

Some of the earliest Illinois and Hong Kong connections, besides students of course, might be early alumni (and one future professor) who visited the region. First, as early as 1924, at least three Illini planned to take a steamship from Seattle to Manila, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, to perform as a traveling student orchestra, the DI reported. Meanwhile, just down the road from campus, as early as 1927, even the University High School had a student enrolled from Hong Kong. Otherwise, campus connections continue to emerge as early as 1931, when future Geography Professor Joseph A. Russell (Record Series 15/10/15) had visited Hong Kong and its neighbors, during his own scholarly tour of Asia and the Pacific. Later, from 1950 through 1952, alumni Ruth Caroline Kruegar (Record Series 26/20/133), worked in Hong Kong, and her personal papers includes a scrapbook with photos from 1950s Hong Kong as well as its neighbors. Finally, journalism alumni John L. Strohm (Record Series 26/20/75) visited Hong Kong, and his papers include correspondence with colleagues in Hong Kong during the 1950s and 1960s.

After World War Two, multiple faculty connections are documented. Physical Education for Women Professor Margaret Erlanger (Record Series 12/13/20) visited Hong Kong and her papers include at least 61 photographs from that trip. In 1962, the University Library acquired the 7,200 volume P.C. Liao Collection of Classics, from the Liao family in Hong Kong, further expanding local resources for study. [1] From 1971 through 1973, Early Childhood and Elementary Education Professor Celia Lavatelli (Record Series 10/5/20) performed research in Hong Kong. Meanwhile, in 1972, Communications and Psychology Professor Charles E. Osgood (Record Series 13/5/20) attended the 1st International Association of Cross-Cultural Psychology in Hong Kong. Even more recently, in 1998, the General Correspondence File (Record Series 2/15/1) of former University president James J. Stukel documents correspondence with Hong Kong Tak Ming College too. Against the background of increasing Illinois – Hong Kong connections, Hong Kong students themselves made the first steps by enrolling as early as one century ago.

Early Hong Kong Illini

For the first decade of enrollment, the earliest Hong Kong Illini might have been students of agriculture, chemistry, and commerce.

Classes of 1918 and 1921

The earliest Hong Kong Illini student might have been Mr. Ping Kwan Long, (B.S. Agriculture, 1918), who prepared at the Cushing Academy and Purdue University in Indiana, before coming to Illinois. [2] More records have not been identified yet.

Just three years later, came Mr. Chuk Yee Tsang, (B.S. Chemistry, 1922), who was a member of the multicultural student organization Cosmopolitan Club, (Record Series 41/64/8), and he kept in touch with campus after graduation, as documented in at least one letter about the Hong Kong economy in 1922, the DI reported.

Classes of 1930 and 1939

One of the earliest Hong Kong Illini graduate students might have been Mr. Hanse Chan, (B.A. Commerce, 1930; M.S. 1931), who joined two Chinese Illini to host a “China Today” forum at the University Place Christian Church.

While nearly one decade later, graduated Mr. Sing-Ming Siao, (B.A. Transportation, 1939), who might not have left many records behind either.

Classes of 1941 and 1949

One of the earliest Hong Kong Illini women graduates might be Ms. Hui-I “Esther” Liang, (B.A. History), who prepared at St. John’s College, before coming to Illinois. Shortly after her arrival, Ms. Liang was interviewed by the DI, and she expressed surprise by the size of the campus but concern for the cold winters. In fact, Ms. Liang was a frequent speaker on China and an interviewee too. Some of her talks included, the World Friendship League (October 20, 1939), Illini History Club (October 27, 1939), Cosmopolitan Club (November 12, 1939), Home Economics Club (January 16, 1940), China Aid Committee (April 11, 1940), and the McKinley Foundation Sunday Evening Supper Club (April 21, 1940).

In another DI interview in early January 1940, Ms. Liang described her school experiences during Chinese and Japanese fighting, she described differences between U.S. and Chinese gift-giving behaviors, and she described the cosmopolitan nature of Shanghai. Ms. Liang was interviewed again two months later, in March, about Easter customs of Chinese Christians. Then again in April, Ms. Liang described how the war was interrupting Chinese education. After graduation, Ms. Liang married a Mr. Arthur Dock Fon Toy in Chicago, just before she entered into a graduate study program at the University of Chicago.

While almost another decade later, graduated Mr. Chun Lee, (B.S. Ceramic Engineering), although he might not have left many records behind.

Classes of 1950, 1953, and 1954

While Hong Kong Illini enrollment began modestly, by the 1950s, student enrollment may have increased greatly.

Among the earliest graduates include Mr. Francis Patrick Kwan, (B.A. Pre-Medicine, 1950), of Victoria, Mr. Ping Kin Ng, (B.S. Architectural Engineering, 1953), and Mr. Pak-Cheong Woo, (B.S. Architecture, 1954). While not many accounts of these students have been identified yet, we know that a graduate student, Mr. Man B. Long, was injured in an automobile accident off-campus in 1952. The following year, a civil engineering student, Mr. Meu G. Yeh was an intramural Bridge champion with fellow student Mr. Ruey W. Liu.

Classes of 1956, 1957, and 1958

During the second half of the 1950s, more undergraduate students arrived and some even completed graduate degrees at Illinois too. One such example is Mr. Hing-Cheang So, (B.S. Electrical Engineering, 1956; PhD Electrical Engineering, 1960). Fellow Hong Kong Illini included Mr. Charles Moon Cheong Koo, (B.S. Chemistry, 1957), and Mr. Daniel Yat-Chiu Ng, (B.S. Chemical Engineering, 1958) too. Interest in Hong Kong could be found off-campus at this time too. In 1955, the local Rotary Club hosted U.S. State Department representative Mr. Henry Lee, who spoke on foreign relations and Hong Kong. Also, at least as early as 1957, in the Illini Union’s Wedgwood Lounge, as part of the campus International Fair, ivory and pearl earrings from Hong Kong were for sale, as advertised in one DI article.

Class of 1960

By the 1960s, it may be that many students chose dietetics, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, home economics, mathematics, and microbiology too.

Some of the earliest students included Mr. Paul Chan, (B.S. Mechanical Engineering), Mr. Frank Ching You Chen, (B.S. Electrical Engineering), and Mr. Henry Shui-Ching Chow, (B.S. Electrical Engineering).

While Mr. Edward Ming Chi Wu, of Kowloon, (B.S. Mechanical Engineering), was an engineer too, students like Ms. Cynthia Bei-ling Zung, also of Kowloon, (B.S. Dietetics) evidence that the Class of 1960 was not entirely engineers.

Class of 1961

The following year, early graduates included Mr. Donald Huk Keung Chow, (B.S. Ceramic Engineering), Mr. David Yiu Kowng Lee, (B.S. Chemistry), of Kowloon, and Mr. Anthony T. Y. Wu, (B.S. Electrical Engineering), of Kowloon, who gave at least one talk about Hong Kong, accompanied by a slideshow, at the off-campus Cantebury Foundation in 1959.

Other graduates included Mr. Eddie Hung-Chung Young, (B.S. Electrical Engineering), and Mr. Ronald Beifan Zung, (B.S. Mechanical Engineering) too.

Class of 1962

The Class of 1962 included Ms. Pehr-yoc Linda Hui, (B.S. Chemistry), Mr. Wing Chiu Leung, Kowloon, (B.S. Electrical Engineering, 1962; M.S. 1963), and Mr. Charles Shih-tung Liang, (B.S. Electrical Engineering, 1962; PhD Electrical Engineering, 1969). Just after graduation, it was announced that among other students, some Hong Kong Illini won Bailey Scholarships from the off-campus University Y.M.C.A. too.

Other graduates included Ms. Jane Kuo Tsao, (B.S. Microbiology), of Kowloon, and Mr. Frank Yung-Foong Tse, (B.S. Engineering Physics) too.

Class of 1963

Some of the Class of 1963 graduates included Ms. Nellie Cheung-wah Choi, (B.S. Mathematics), Mr. Jacob Wan-Tat Lam, (B.S. Microbiology), and Mr. Allen Sui Kong Van, (B.S. Mechanical Engineering), who gave at least one DI interview about refugees and geopolitics in Hong Kong, in October 1962.

Class of 1964

Some of the Class of 1964 included Mr. Milton Mow-Jack Chang, (B.S. Electrical Engineering), Ms. Linda Lim-Dan Lam, (B.A. History), and Mr. Alfred Yung Fook Lau, (B.S. Electrical Engineering).

There was also Ms. Juliana M.E. Law, HK, (B.A. Home Economics), and Mr. Dennis Chiu-Woon Leung, (B.S. Zoology),

Other graduates included Ms. Terry Lowe, (B.S. Mathematics), and Mr. Harold Tin Kei Ma, (B.S. Architecture) of Kowloon.

Class of 1965

Some of the Class of 1965 included Ms. Florence Sui-Ying Chan, (B.A. Home Economics), Mr. Shiu Kwong Chan, (B.S. Electrical Engineering, 1965; M.S. 1967), and Mr. Yau-Ming Chien, (B.S. Physics) of Kowloon too.

There was also Ms. Vivian Ping Chu, (B.S. Microbiology), Mr. Shu Yeh Howe, (B.S. Chemistry), and Mr. Daniel Yee Wah Lam, (B.S. Civil Engineering) too.

Other graduates included Mr. Robert Lap-Sun Lee, (B.S. Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering), and Mr. Peter Pak Lee Louey, (B.S. Electrical Engineering).

While other graduates included Mr. Kent Shao-Wan Tong, (B.S. Electrical Engineering) and Ms. Vivien Van, Kowloon, (B.A. Home Economics).

Class of 1966

Some of the Class of 1966 included Ms. Hing Chun Chan, (B.S. General Engineering, 1966; M.S. Electrical Engineering, 1969; PhD Electrical Engineering, 1971), Ms. Doris Chang, (B.A. Home Economics), and Mr. Lowell G Chang, (B.S. Electrical Engineering), too.

There was also Ms. Siu-Fung Choi, (B.S. Chemistry), Mr. James Cheh-Min Chow, (B.S. Electrical Engineering, 1966; M.S. Electrical Engineering, 1970), and Mr. Douglas Hum, (B.S. Electrical Engineering), too.

Other graduates included Mr. Pui-Chi IP, (B.A. Economics),  Mr. Chun-Hing Leung, (B.S. Electrical Engineering, 1966; M.S. Electrical Engineering, 1968), and Ms. Kathleen Suet-Ying Leung, (B.F.A. Art Education), too.

While other graduates included Mr. Kin Man Li, (B.S. Mathematics), and Mr. Clement Moy, (B.S. Electrical Engineering), too.

And there was Mr. Montgomery Y. K. Moy, (B.S. Civil Engineering), and Ms. Frances Lee-Fung Tsao, (B.A. Home Economics) too.

Class of 1967

Some of the Class of 1967 included Ms. Annie Chee-Hang Leung, (B.S. Microbiology), Ms. Alice Mao Sun, (B.A. Home Economics), and Mr. Stephen Tung, (B.S. Mechanical Engineering, 1967; M.S. Mechanical Engineering, 1969; PhD Mechanical Engineering, 1971), too.

Other graduates included Mr. Anthony Shui-Cheung Van, (B.S. Electrical Engineering), Mr. David Pakwai Wong, (B.S. Electrical Engineering), and Mr. Ho Yu, (B.S. Chemical Engineering).

Class of 1968

By 1968, it had already been fifty years since Mr. Long graduated in 1918, and Hong Kong Illini graduates continued.

Some of the Class of 1968 graduates included Mr. Michael Chi-Keung Chan, (Microbiology), Ms. Catherine Tang, (English), and Ms. Marian Guen Han Wong, (Zoology), too. More documentation has not been identified yet.

Of course there were graduates students too. Some early Hong Kong Illini graduate students included: Soo Cheong Tye, (M.S. Civil Engineering, 1954); William Jit Thye Ng, (M.S. Civil Engineering, 1955); Francis Chi-Yu Tang, (PhD Mathematics, 1963); Chi Yeung Lo, (M.S. Mathematics, 1964); Ping-Kay Hon, (PhD Chemistry, 1964); Albert Yao Chee Wong, (M.S. Civil Engineering, 1970; PhD Civil Engineering, 1973); Koon-Hung Chan, (M.S. Accounting Science, 1970); and Julia Tse-Yee Chen, (M.A. Mathematics, 1970).

Student Organizations

Some of the earliest Hong Kong Illini, were members of the historic Chinese Students’ Club, and their names can be found in student event announcements in the Daily Illini (Record Series 41/8/801) and the Student and Faculty Organization Constitutions and Registration Cards (Record Series 41/2/41) too. We also know that publicly available student enrollment figures document that the story of Hong Kong Illini enrollment continues strong today.

For the first fifty years of Hong Kong Illini history, like Chinese Illini, Hawaiian Illini, Indonesian Illini, Malaysian Illini, Singaporean Illini, and Taiwanese Illini, some early Hong Kong Illini were part of the large historic Chinese Students Club. However, by the late 1970s, some Hong Kong Illini and other interested students formed additional student organizations to explore the cultures of Hong Kong too.

In fact, at least as early as 1974, some Hong Kong Illini founded the Hong Kong Study Group, which was a student organization that met to discuss Hong Kong. Although the group did not remain as a registered student organization for many years, interest in Hong Kong continued for decades up to the present day.

Indeed, it was at least as early as 1977, when some Hong Kong Illini organized and founded the Hong Kong Student Association (HKSA) which is a registered social and cultural organization representing students from Hong Kong. For almost forty years, the HKSA has been promoting intercultural understanding and appreciation, through a variety of campus events for all interested Illini everywhere.

Are you a Hong Kong Illini? Do you know someone who is? We’d like to hear from you! Please send us a message or leave a comment below. We want to include you and your story, as we celebrate the first 150 years of the University of Illinois.

Happy First 150 everyone!

(A special thank you to the 2017-2018 University of Illinois Hong Kong Student Association for their support in the development of this work.)


[] As always, a special thank you to all students and staff whose tireless work for student life and publications (many of which are available at the University Archives) help preserve the memories of Illini everywhere.

[1] “Purchases from Institutional Funds”, Meeting of the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois, December 19, 1962, page 279, Record Series 1/1/802.

[2] “Ping Kwan Long”, The Semi-Centennial Alumni Record of the University of Illinois, Edited by Franklin W. Scott, page 724.