Alice Woo, MS ’75

Alice Woo '75

A Gift Inspired by Her Father’s Achievements and Principles

Alice Woo, MS ’75, has lived by her father’s guiding principle: “What you gain from society, you must give back for the benefit of society.”

True to these words, Woo gave $3 million to establish the Vincent V.C. Woo Professorship in Fiber Science & Apparel Design in memory of her father, a textile entrepreneur and philanthropist, who passed away in 1981. The gift continues Woo’s extensive history of support to the college, including an endowment to provide for student exchanges with Hong Kong Polytechnic University and an FSAD graduate student fellowship — both named in honor of her father.

Born and raised in rural Qiaoqi, China, Vincent V.C. Woo left home as a young man 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, the school he had attended. In 1949, Woo moved to Hong Kong, where he founded Central Textiles, which became regarded worldwide for its fine yarn and fabrics.

Throughout his life, he supported many medical and educational causes, and in 1970, the Hong Kong government honored him as a Justice of the Peace for his philanthropy and civic engagement.

“I am strongly influenced by my father’s perseverance and his belief in helping others,” says Woo, who studied community service education (now part of policy analysis and management). “He inspired me to continue his spirit of giving. The mission 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, holds the Vincent V.C. Woo Professorship. He is studying 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 clothing performance under differing climatic conditions. Fan has launched the Cornell Institute of Fashion and Fiber Innovation to focus on smart clothing and wearable technologies.

“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,” Fan says.

“Professor Fan and the FSAD department 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 professorship to be a fitting tribute to his legacy.”

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