Distinguished Alumni Awards
Ronald Kee Young Chao
Vice Chairman & Director, Novel Enterprises Limited
- BS, 1962, Mechanical Engineering, University of Tokyo
- MS, 1964, Mechanical Science & Engineering, University of Illinois
Born in Shanghai and raised in Hong Kong, Ronald Chao traveled abroad to study in both Japan and the United States before returning home to join Novel Enterprises in 1965. As his career has risen with the textile and garment giant, Chao continues his family’s legacy of philanthropic support to education on the mainland and throughout Asia.
Chao acted as Novel Enterprises’ Managing Director from 1987-1996, and has served as vice chairman and director since. Under his leadership, the company acquired Tommy Hilfiger in 1989, and built it into a global apparel and lifestyle business before Apax Capital Partners acquired it in 2003. That same year Novel Enterprises acquired Michael Kors, one of the United States’ preeminent and most successful designers.
Ever cognizant of the role his education plays in his success, Chao is committed to investing in nurturing future generations of leaders through education. Mr. Chao founded the Asian Youth Center Project in 2010. He went on to donate $150 million to help establish the Bai Xian Education Foundation, with a $100 million of these funds earmarked for the Asian Future Leaders Scholarship program. Additionally, he has given over $23 million to establishing the Yenching Academy at Peking University. He remains actively involved in education by serving as an honorary trustee of Zhejiang University; an advisor of Zhejiang University Education Foundation in Hong Kong; an honorary trustee of Peking University; and an honorary trustee in Tsinghua University.
Chao has received many awards in his lifetime, but some of the most notable include, The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon in 2014; the 2015 Extraordinary Leaders of Overseas Chinese Award from the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of Ningbo; and the 2012 Model Overseas Resident Award at the 17th Assembly of Overseas Townsmen. In December 2015, Mr. Chao was conferred an honorary doctorate from Zhejiang University for his accomplishments as a distinguished businessman.