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Li Ka-shing talks of Stanford’s 'special place' in his heart

- By Ruthann Richter

Li Ka-shing

Li- Ka-shing

Hong Kong entrepreneur Li Ka-shing, who has pledged one-third of his assets to philanthropy, spoke at the Sept. 29 dedication of the new education center that bears his name. He is the chairman of Cheung Kong (Holdings) Ltd. and Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. as well as the Li Ka Shing Foundation, which, together with his other charitable organizations, has provided more than $1.45 billion to projects worldwide, including its support for the new center. The communications office asked him to discuss what motivated his generous support for the new building.

Q: You have been immensely supportive of education in general, but what was it about this particular project at Stanford that appealed to you?

Li Ka-shing: Stanford has always had a very special place in my heart. This is our third major project with the university, and each one reminds me of the time I brought my oldest son, Victor, to the campus to begin his education here many years ago. As we walked together past these beautiful buildings, I was overtaken by everything this university represents and the opportunities it provides for students. On that occasion, I remember looking at Victor and saying, “This is the first time in my life that I feel jealous.” I genuinely yearned for the opportunity he was going to have, and I am grateful that he had such an experience.

Concerning this center specifically, Stanford has a rich history as a leader in medical education and health-care delivery, and I took interest in the proposed center for learning and knowledge when I heard about the innovative use of technologies to combine multi-dimension and interdisciplinary learning opportunities, as well as cutting-edge virtual and experiential training, which I believe are all important cornerstones for the life sciences and biotechnology.

Q: Your own education was cut short as a result of war in China. How did that affect your approach to education and your decision to invest so much in the field?

Li Ka-shing: I have great respect for education. My father was an educator, and he was one of my heroes. That my own formal education was cut short due to war circumstances is one of the voids in my life that has never been adequately filled. It is the price we often pay during the unanticipated and uncontrollable turmoil in life, such as war. However, my lack of a formal education was also something of a blessing as it created a hunger for learning in me and compelled me to do everything in my power to read and listen and learn, as well as to use the blessings that have come into my life to benefit others in achieving their educational aspirations. You never know what the future holds, or how life’s unexpected experiences can alter destinies. Had it not been for the war and my father’s death, my desire in life was to remain in school and to become a physician. Perhaps this is also why I am so interested in supporting this new center.

Q: How do you think this building will change the way medicine is practiced in the future?

Li Ka-shing: This building opens a new era in medical education. Its innovation not only offers technologies of the future today to help train students and to provide virtual, experiential exercises for practitioners, but it will also encourage continued innovation, multi-dimensional and cross-disciplinary learning, as well as promote the highest quality of education in health care everywhere. With the excitement I feel, I can only imagine how wonderfully exciting it is to be a student here, with so many opportunities to embrace these new technologies and learn.

Q: What are the values that shaped your life and that you hope will shape the lives of others who do their training here?

Li Ka-shing: I believe that the ultimate meaning in life is to serve and help others reach their potential. I have tried to make this my life’s work, and I hope that this new center for learning and knowledge will do the same and inspire other institutions to follow its lead.

Q: What do you hope to see students do once they complete their courses of study here?

Li Ka-shing: My fondest hope is that they will build their careers through proper ways, and set serving others as their goals also.

Stanford Medicine integrates research, medical education and health care at its three institutions - Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford Health Care (formerly Stanford Hospital & Clinics), and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford. For more information, please visit the Office of Communication & Public Affairs site at

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