Giving back for a better future

Albert Ip, (third from right) BS '73, at the dedication ceremony for the Albert and Pasy Ip Classroom in the Olin Business School in Simon Hall. ©Photo by Jerry Naunheim Jr.

Albert Ip, BS ’73, knows a lot about giving back. He has been volunteering with Washington University for more than 15 years. He is the honorary chairman of the Hong Kong Alumni Club and a member of the Alumni Board of Governors. Previously, he was a member of the International Advisory Council for Asia and of the Wells Fargo Advisors Center for Finance and Accounting Research. He is currently chairman of the International Regional Cabinet of Hong Kong.

An avid volunteer with other schools as well, Ip was recently inducted as an honoree of the Beta Gamma Sigma Society at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology’s School of Business. In his speech, Ip said: “You and I have been given and benefited from an excellent education. These opportunities were made possible by others who saw value in investing in your future.”

“I still remember my dad saying, ‘Wow, Son, this must be the fiftieth cashier’s check I’ve bought for you.’”

Albert Ip

As a teenager in Macau, China, Ip needed someone to invest in him. He knew he wanted to go to university in the United States, and he knew he’d need a robust scholarship.

“I applied to 15 universities in the U.S.,” Ip says. He was paying all the application fees with cashier’s checks. “I still remember my dad saying, ‘Wow, Son, this must be the fiftieth cashier’s check I’ve bought for you.’” Ip recalls with a laugh.

Ip was admitted to several colleges, but Washington University gave him a full scholarship. He enrolled in the School of Engineering & Applied Science where he studied applied mathematics and computer science. Some semesters, Ip took six or seven courses, in addition to working on campus. His industriousness paid off, and he graduated in three years summa cum laude.

After Washington University, Ip enrolled in Cornell University’s applied mathematics PhD program. But after earning his master’s degree, he decided to pursue a career in business instead and earned a master’s degree in finance at Carnegie Mellon University. Both universities gave Ip fellowships, including a monthly stipend, but he regrets not finishing his PhD at Cornell.

Ip started working for Citibank in New York not long after graduating from Carnegie Mellon and moved to Hong Kong nearly 30 years ago. In 2007, he retired from Citibank and started working for Merrill Lynch. Ip retired from finance in 2011 and is currently chief executive officer of Langham Hospitality Investments, a listed company in Hong Kong. He is also on the board of six other listed companies in Hong Kong. Despite these obligations, Ip devotes a substantial amount of time to working in higher education — his passion.

“It’s something that I really enjoy,” he says before launching into a story about a top-listed real-estate company that interviewed a student Ip recommended. The head of human resources called Ip to get his final recommendation, and during the call, the student got the job. In an academic year, Ip counsels 50 to 60 students.

“It’s not work,” Ip says. “It’s like enjoying a good movie.” He sits on the Council of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, a McDonnell Academy Scholar partner, and was previously a council member of Lingnan University. He is an adjunct or honorary professor at five universities, including City University of Hong Kong, University of Macau and Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Ip delivers talks at universities, both in Hong Kong and overseas. In 2016, he delivered 15 talks, including one at Washington University.

Recently, WashU named a classroom in Simon Hall after Ip. “Unbeknownst to me, Chancellor [Mark S.] Wrighton came,” Ip says. “I said, ‘Mark! I thought this was going to be just taking a few photos that I could take back to my wife.’ It turned out to be a naming ceremony, and I really appreciated that. It was a surprise and a warm welcome, to say the least.”

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