23
MAY
2014

Founding Dean of UBC School of Dentistry: So-Wah Leung

Founding Dean of UBC School of Dentistry: So Wah Leung (1918-1989)

“Clearly the second generation of the Leungs has endured hardship and overcome many obstacles to become contributing citizens in Canada.” ~ Sophia Leung

So Wah Leung was the youngest son of Revd. Chuk Ping Leung, borned in Jiangmen, China, in 1918. He arrived at Edmonton, Canada at age 8 and began his English education. Leung grew up in Canada during a time of severe racial prejudice against the Chinese people but his modest and gentle nature, qualities inherited from his mother, led him to “tolerate the racial insults and cultural rejections as insignificant childish games.” Despite difficult circumstances, he continued to excel in his studies. He inherited from his parents a hard-working lifestyle. He said with a sense of humour, “I was too busy to get into any mischief in those days.”

After graduating from high school, he took two years of Science at University of British Columbia, then transferred to the Faculty of Dentistry at McGill University in 1939. Leung graduated with a combined degree in Science and Doctor of Dental Science with the highest standing in the class of 1943, making him the recipient of the Gold Medal Award. Due to discrimination against Chinese, Leung was not able to practice his dental profession in Canada. He left Canada to pursue advanced education at the University of Rochester, New York, receiving a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Physiology, and established his career as an internationally known scientist and dentist.

He was first appointed as the Associate Professor in Physiology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Dentistry and within two years, at the young age of 33, he was promoted to Full Professor and Chairman of the Department. He published extensively and became an internationally known scholar. Not only was Dr. Leung a world renowned scholar, he was twice nominated by his students as the “Best Teacher” of the year. Leung was invited to join the faculty at the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1961 to teach in both the School of Dentistry and School of Medicine.

Leung returned to Canada in 1962 with an invitation from the University of British Columbia to establish a new Faculty of Dentistry and served as its first Dean. This move was so ground breaking that “the Vancouver Sun expressed editorially wonderment and congratulations that the University had chosen a Canadian of Chinese ancestry for such a high administrative office.” Under Leung’s leadership, the School of Dentistry at UBC received high regard from the Review of Dental Research in Canada.

In addition to Leung’s academic achievements, he was well remembered by the community for his sacrificial service. Despite the heavy demands of his educational and administrative duties, he generously gave his time to serve charitable organizations. The dual values of Christian ethics and Chinese culture nurtured in Dr. Leung a strong sense of responsibility to help improve the world he lived. Social justice and racial harmony were two prime values in his life. He received many awards in recognition of his community service and scholarship.

Leung was not only an accomplished scholar, popular teacher and outstanding citizen, he was also a loving husband and father. In memory of him, his son shared many incidents of how his father set aside father and son time in spite of his demanding schedule. Like his father, Leung instilled in his son virtues of honesty, diligence, determination, perseverance and self-giving. Leung loved his wife deeply. His son recalled an incident during his stroke recovery at the hospital. Though the stroke affected his speech and mobility, he asked his private nurse to buy a basket of flowers for his wife on Mother’s Day and with tremendous effort, he signed his name on the card (at that point, he was using a special made magnetic alphabet to communicate with friends and family).

As Mrs. Sophia Leung remarked, Dr. Leung was convinced that Christian faith must be lived out beyond the four walls of the church and bring witness to our neighbours, our workplace, our society, and our world. He is a public Christian in the truest sense.

Reference Sources:

Oral History with Mrs. Sophia Leung.

S. Wah Leung: Celebration of a Splendid Life. Vancouver, BC: Dr. S. Wah Leung Endowment Fund, the University of British Columbia Faculty of Dentistry, 1992.


梁甦華 (1918-1989) :卑詩大學牙科學院的始創院長 [中譯文]

「梁家的第二代明顯都曾捱過苦,但他們克服了許多攔阻與障礙,成為對加拿大有貢獻的公民。」(梁陳明任述)

梁甦華是梁祝平牧師的幼子,一九一八年生於江門市。甦華八歲時到加拿大愛民頓開始接受英語教育。甦華在加拿大長大的期間,華人受到極大的歧視,但他承傳了母親謙和和溫柔的品性,使他能忍受他人所作出種族侮辱和文化排擠的幼稚行為。環境雖艱苦,他的學業成績卻是出類拔萃。他同時承傳了父母那種堅韌的工作操守。他自嘲地笑著回答:「我根本忙得沒有時間去搗亂生事。」(Celebration of a Splendid Life, 第五、九頁)

中學畢業後,甦華在卑詩大學理科修讀了兩年,於一九三九年轉到麥基大學的牙醫學院攻讀。一九四三年畢業,同時獲頒理科及牙科醫術博士學位。他也是畢業班成績最佳的學生,獲頒金章獎的榮譽。因歧視華人的政策,梁醫生不獲准於加拿大做牙醫,他就離開加拿大到紐約州的Rochester大學深造,獲醫科生理學博士學位,成為一位國際知名的科學家和牙科專家。隨後,Pittsburgh大學聘任他為牙醫學院生理學系的副教授。兩年內,他被升為學院的正教授和院長,年謹三十三歲。他出版了多篇研究論文,使他成為舉世知名的學者。梁博士同時也是一位備受愛戴的老師,兩度被學生提名為「最佳教授」。一九六一年他加入加州大學洛杉磯分校為教授,同時在牙醫學院和醫學院授課。

一九六二年,梁博士接受卑詩大學的邀請回加拿大,創立一所牙醫學院,並擔任該院的首名院長。這創舉使《溫哥華太陽》報在社論中發表,驚歎卑詩大學竟選擇一名加拿大華裔來擔當如此高級的行政職位。雖然仍在初創期,牙醫學院已獲得加拿大牙醫研究彙報的高度評價。

梁博士除了學術上的成就外,他捨己服務社群的貢獻亦為市民記念。雖然教學和行政職務已夠他忙,他從不吝嗇時間參與各慈善機構工作。他人生中所兼備的基督教和中華文化的道德標準,孕育出他改善社會一份強烈的責任感。社會公義和種族和諧是他人生的兩大核心價值。

梁博士不單是一位成就非凡的學者,受愛戴的教授和傑出的公民,他同時也是一位充滿愛的丈夫與父親。他的兒子憶述他父親經常在百忙中抽時間陪伴他。像其父梁牧師,梁博士向兒子灌輸誠實、勤奮、不屈不撓、堅毅和捨己的美德。梁博士也極愛他的妻子,他的兒子憶述梁博士中風後,雖然影響了他的說話能力和行動,他仍在母親節請醫院的私人護士去買一籃鮮花送給妻子,並且費盡氣力在咭上簽名。(當時,他已不能書寫,要用特製磁性字母來串字與親友溝通。)

如梁陳明任所述,梁博士深信基督教信仰必須活在教會的四堵牆以外,基督徒必須在他的鄰區、職場、社會和世界中活出見證。梁博士本人就是一位名乎其實為鄰舍而活的「公眾基督徒」。


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