The Colgate Scene
March 2004

Robert H.N. Ho '56
Colgate's most generous 'investor'
 

As a senior at Kansas City's Pembroke Country Day School in 1952, a young Robert H.N. Ho took the advice of his guidance counselor and looked closely at three colleges in the Northeast -- one each in Maine, Massachusetts, and New York.

In the end it came down to deciding between the Maine school and Colgate, and Ho visited both on a warm spring weekend. The Maine school was too small for his taste. And besides, he reasoned, Colgate, being further south, would be warmer.

Today Ho describes his choice as "a lucky mistake. We had plenty of snow every winter, and Colgate was the coldest of the three schools. But after all these years I know I made the right decision." He credits his Colgate education for helping him to develop a "well-rounded world view."

In December, the Hong Kong native and emeritus member of Colgate's Board of Trustees confirmed a commitment of $25 million to help the university achieve the goals of its strategic plan, in particular as the plan relates to the sciences.

A centerpiece of the strategic plan will be a new interdisciplinary science building where faculty and students from across the sciences will collaborate in their research and teaching, modeling the kind of cooperation among the disciplines that is characteristic of the most advanced research in science and medicine today. Colgate's new science building will be named in honor of Robert H.N. Ho.

An investor who has focused on opportunities in Europe and the Far East, Ho now lives in Vancouver. He is energetic and remains active in business today with his sons, who manage the family's interests from Hong Kong.

Already a generous benefactor of Colgate -- in the 1990s he endowed two faculty chairs and supported the China Study Group as a means of encouraging student interest in the Far East -- Ho said he was inspired most recently by his meetings with President Rebecca Chopp: "I decided the first time I met President Chopp that I should commit more support."

The return on this latest investment, he said, will be watching Colgate become better known for its excellence in the sciences.

"Robert H.N. Ho's support makes it possible for us to move forward confidently in implementing a key element of the strategic plan," said President Chopp. "With the same kind of vision he employed in encouraging Colgate to introduce students to the culture of the Far East, his latest support recognizes the importance of scientists learning to work across disciplines, and makes it possible for Colgate to create those opportunities for its talented students."

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