Alice Woo endows fiber science and apparel design professorship
Throughout her life, Alice Woo, M.S. '75, has followed her father's guiding principle: "What you gain from society, you must give back for the benefit of society."
True to these words, Woo has given $3 million to Cornell's College of Human Ecology to establish the Vincent V.C. Woo Professorship in Fiber Science & Apparel Design (FSAD) in memory of her father, who passed away in 1981 as a successful textile entrepreneur and philanthropist in China and Hong Kong. The gift continues Woo's extensive history of support for the college, including an endowment to provide for student exchanges with Hong Kong Polytechnic University and an FSAD graduate student fellowship -- both also named in honor of her father.
Born and raised in rural Qiaoqi, China, Vincent V.C. Woo left home as a young adult to learn the textile trade as an apprentice in Shanghai, where he eventually started his own mill. With his business thriving in the 1940s, Woo returned to build a road in his home village and to support Qiaoqi Primary School, where he once studied. With political changes occurring in China, Woo moved to Hong Kong in 1949, where he founded Central Textiles, highly regarded for decades for its fine yarn and fabrics. In Hong Kong, he supported many medical and educational causes, and the Hong Kong government honored him as a Justice of the Peace in 1970 for his years of philanthropy and civic engagement.
"I am strongly influenced by father's perseverance and his belief in helping others," says Woo, who studied community service education (now known as policy analysis and management) at Cornell. "He inspired me to continue his spirit of giving. The mission of the College of Human Ecology is to make people's lives better; therefore it is my pleasure and honor to be a strong supporter of the college."
Jintu Fan, FSAD professor and chair, will hold the Vincent V.C. Woo professorship. Fan studies the integration of fashion design and technology. Prior to joining Cornell in 2012, he led the development of Walter, the world's first sweating manikin, for testing the performance and comfort of clothing under differing climatic conditions. Last fall, Fan launched the Cornell Institute of Fashion and Fiber Innovation (CIFFI) to unite academia and industry to focus on smart clothing and wearable technologies.
Home to the only fashion design program in the Ivy League, Cornell's FSAD department "combines excellence in fashion design and management with world-class research in fiber science," Fan says. "Alice's highly generous support for the department ensures that we are in the position to cultivate partnerships between academia and industry and to explore the science and art of fibers and fashion for the improvement of human health and performance."
"Professor Jintu Fan and the Department of Fiber Science & Apparel Design are developing research on new technologies that will help transform the clothing we wear, with applications far beyond -- in areas such as sports, medicine, health and personal protection," Woo says. "Along with this cutting-edge research, they are inspiring and nurturing the future leaders of the global fashion and textile industry. My father's livelihood was in textiles, so I find this to be a very fitting tribute to his legacy."