UCW awards honorary professorship to multiculturalism advocate
UCW News Team | July 13, 2016
Au will formally accept his appointment at the University’s 2016 convocation ceremony at Vancouver’s Italian Cultural Centre on Friday, July 15. Convocation begins at 11 a.m.
The appointment acknowledges distinguished academics who have earned an international reputation for their exceptional ongoing and sustained track record of excellence in research, scholarship or community. Their expertise and contribution to academe will significantly benefit UCW.
“I am excited about UCW bestowing an honorary professorship on me, not only as a personal recognition but also as the University’s inspiration of me to further my path of academic and professional explorations,” says Au.
In addition to being a municipal politician and a former Richmond School District trustee who was twice appointed vice-chairperson, Au is a trained family therapist. He has served as the program leader of the Mental Health Promotion and Counseling Team of the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority in Richmond.
A role model for new immigrants and the community at large, Au caught UCW’s attention not only because of the international accolades he has earned, but also his grassroots contributions.
Au is a dedicated volunteer and fierce advocate for intercultural harmony and integration. He has contributed thousands of volunteer hours to conducting free community workshops on parenting, mental health, diversity awareness, public education, civil participation and climate change.
Au aspires to help the City of Richmond develop as a centre for international trade and business, technology, tourism and ecological innovation.
“In recent years, I have paid more attention to the study of intercultural communication,” says Au. “This area cuts across different fields, including business, mental health, social service, education, community development and politics. It also has special relevance to a multicultural society such as Canada. Unless we have a better awareness of ourselves and understanding of others, it is difficult to achieve real intercultural harmony in a multicultural world.”
A former associate professor of social work at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the holder of three degrees from the University, Au is dedicated to modeling intercultural sensitivity.
“I have always told my students that in the business world of today, one cannot be successful if one can only deal with people whose cultural background is similar,” explains Au. “Canada, because of its richness in the cultural mosaic, is the best place to learn and practice intercultural communication.”
Au has assisted and co-founded a number of local organizations. They include the Chinese Mental Wellness Association of Canada, Richmond GreenSpace Society, Interfaith for World Peace Society and the Canada International Education Assistance Foundation.
He has served on numerous boards and committees, including the Richmond Intercultural Advisory Committee, Richmond Child Care Advisory Committee, Richmond Sister City Committee, Richmond Multicultural Concerns Society, and Richmond Poverty Response Task Force.
Au is Canada’s chief representative at the International Eco-Safety Cooperative Organization, which is affiliated with the United Nations (UN) Economic and Social Council (ESOSOC). He is also the deputy secretary-general of the Asia-Pacific Region within the UN’s Initiatives and Training for Youth (UNITY) program.
In 2006, Au was recognized by The Vancouver Sun as one of The Hundred Most Influential Chinese-Canadian in BC. In 2007 he received the Stand Up and Stand Out for Children and Youth British Columbia award. The Governor General of Canada presented Au with a QEII Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012. And in 2014, the federal government awarded an organization that he co-founded, the Interfaith for World Peace Society, the Community Champion Special Award.
UCW is part of the Global University Systems (GUS) international network of higher-education institutions headquartered in the Netherlands. With institutions and affiliates across the UK, Canada, Germany and Singapore the group educates more than 50,000 students from 160 different nationalities.
UCW delivers programs that provide students with the applied and theoretical basis for success in the workplace and future academic endeavours. Established in 2004 by David Strong, former University of Victoria president, UCW offers quality education with courses that transfer broadly into the public education system. Courses are offered at UCW’s downtown Vancouver campus and online. For more information visit www.ucanwest.ca.
Carol Thorbes, Communications/Media Relations