Dr. Edwin Leong’s generosity improves lives of the vulnerable
Dr. Leong's inspirational ongoing support for UBC is helping to ensure lifelong health and happiness while protecting society's most vulnerable.
Recognized for his success and integrity in the business community, UBC alumnus Dr. Edwin Leong exemplifies extraordinary accomplishment and thoughtful philanthropy. He has a passion for helping society’s most vulnerable people, especially children and seniors. Since 2016, Dr. Leong has generously partnered with UBC to provide much-needed support for researchers and students.
One example was his $24 million gift to UBC’S Faculty of Medicine in 2018 — the most generous donation the faculty had ever received from an individual. The gift funded the establishment of the Edwin S. H. Leong Healthy Aging Program.
“My wish is for everybody to live long and die peacefully, and I believe healthy aging is the key to that,” says Leong. “This is an investment in people, and I have great confidence that by bringing together and supporting the brightest people in this field, UBC will be able to show us the way.”
At the beginning of the pandemic, Dr. Leong generously responded to the challenges of COVID-19 by donating $505,000 to Connecting with Compassion — a pilot project distributing iPads to long-term care facilities across the province for the use of older adults — as well as funding for the development of materials and content. With the threat of serious illness preventing in-person visits, seniors could still maintain a vital connection with friends and family remotely.
He was also at the forefront of major COVID-19 projects at UBC, donating $3 million to the Faculty of Medicine to advance understanding of protection, prevention and treatment of COVID-19 and $1 million to the Faculty of Dentistry to develop and implement a virtual technology platform for geriatric dentistry.
Dr. Leong feels privileged to give back to his alma mater.
“I have fond memories of my time at UBC,” he says, “especially commuting to class on the bus up to University Boulevard from Broadway. I remember often giving up my seat for an elderly commuter when they’d get on at a later stop. It’s that memory that informed our foundation’s philanthropy — to make sure no one is left behind on our life journey together, especially with medical or dental care.”
After his bachelor’s degree from UBC in 1973, Edwin completed a master’s degree at the University of Toronto in 1974. He then founded the Tai Hung Fai Group, which over the decades has grown into one of Hong Kong’s pre-eminent investment and development companies. In 2013, Dr. Leong established the Tai Hung Fai Charitable Foundation, which serves disadvantaged seniors and children.
His foundation focuses on helping the elderly and children, supporting medical research, and providing scholarships. His $500,000 contribution to the Edwin S.H. Leong International Leadership Fund, supports graduate awards for remarkable PhD students, like Wenlin Chen, a UBC PhD candidate in Neuroscience who is researching treatment for developmental delay in children.
“I will always be inspired and motivated to work hard and meet the criteria I set for myself as a Leong Scholar,” says Wenlin. “Without the Edwin S.H. Leong CSC UBC PhD Scholarship, I could not have gone so far and achieved this much.”
Dr. Leong’s support for children and seniors, ensuring health and happiness across the lifespan, is inspirational to UBC President Santa Ono. He finds this generosity in keeping with Dr. Leong’s character.
“This support from Dr. Leong exemplifies his deep concern and empathy for anyone isolated from the basics of medical and dental care — especially seniors,” says Santa Ono. “I am very pleased, but not surprised, that Edwin would be at the forefront of such far-sighted philanthropy for our community.”
At UBC’s 2019 graduation ceremonies, Edwin Leong was conferred the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws for his professional accomplishments and philanthropic endeavours.
In his citation speech, President Santa Ono aptly encapsulated the professional life and philanthropy of Dr. Leong as an “extraordinary record of translating success in business into even greater fortune for humankind.”