2006 Honorary Doctorate
An internationally respected business and community leader, Dr Helmut Sohmen was appointed Chairman of the Academy Council in 1986. He gave eight years of outstanding service to the Academy.
Dr Sohmen is head of one of the world’s largest shipowning enterprises and a director of a number of other companies. His wide range of public service appointments range from universities to the Legislative Council, the Consultative Committee for the Basic Law, the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce, the Hong Kong Shipowners Association, and the Pacific Basin Economic Council. In all these fora he has contributed eloquently to the issues of the day. For his engagement, Dr Sohmen has been honoured by a number of governments and institutions around the world.
It is, however, his contribution for education which will, perhaps, become his lasting legacy, and that of his wife Anna – whom we of course also know well in these premises. Together, they have created scholarship funds and foundations, endowed professorial chairs, and supported study programmes, not only in Hong Kong and Mainland China, but also in Europe and North America. Dr Sohmen, however, does not simply provide funds: he also devotes much time and energy to enable academic institutions to tap his experience as an international businessman, one very much at home on all Continents.
During his time as Chairman of the Academy, he launched the Duchess of Kent International Scholarship Fund with significant personal contributions; promoted the founding of the Society of APA to increase funds to support scholarships and bursaries; and encouraged student performances, exchange visits and tours overseas.
The integrity of his steadfast Chairmanship assisted in assuring the reputation and status of the Academy as a degree-awarding institution. The guidance and soundness of judgment he displayed during the early, formative period of the Academy's life established its quality imperative and adherence to high standards, shaped and determined its values and signature character, provided a firm basis on which to build subsequent developments, and helped to seed the success and standing the Academy enjoys today.