Francis C.C. Yip (’90) has donated generously to Acadia and treasures his ties to the University. Yet it took a visit from Rod Morrison, Acadia’s Vice-President, Advancement (retired), to persuade him to return in person for the first time in 26 years.
“Rod Morrison came to see me when I was posted to Hong Kong, and he invited me to come back to Acadia to see how things had changed and to help the University as part of the Campaign Cabinet,” he says. “So I went back in 2016, and it brought back a lot of memories. My wife, who came with me, had been to Canada before, but not Nova Scotia, and she fell in love with it.”
A native of Singapore, Francis has lived in five Asia-Pacific countries and is now the Chief Commercial Officer for LivFul Inc., a biotechnology company with offices on five continents. He is also a Managing Partner for LivFul Asia Pacific in Singapore. His 30-year career spans senior executive positions with blue-chip technology companies such as Verizon, Dimension Data, Orange and IBM.
Although he is fluent in seven languages, he says his first experience of multicultural living was as an Acadia business student. “For its size, Acadia has a very cosmopolitan student population. When I was there, we had about 30 countries represented on the campus. And because the student population was only about 3,000, we quickly got to know each other, if not by name then by face. That became very meaningful.”
The town of Wolfville played an important role, he adds. “Students who are thousands of miles from home need to be self-sufficient and to network quickly. Acadia offers that a lot, but so does Wolfville. Families and homes opened their doors to us during Christmas and other festive events. When you are by yourself far from home, that helps to make you feel comfortable. That really was very special for me.”
Donating in personal ways
Even before returning to campus, Francis was contributing to Acadia. He donated to help fund the ambitious renovation in 2015 of Patterson Hall, the new home of the F.C. Manning School of Business. With money he gave, a classroom was built and named in honour and memory of one of his professors, Paul Tom.
“Paul Tom was an energetic, passionate and generous professor,” he says. “He was my honours thesis advisor, but his impact on my life went beyond his academic mentoring. He also gave me career guidance and counselling. At my request, he wrote a testimonial and a character reference about me for a potential employer. I had never had a professor be so helpful and supportive personally as well as academically.”
More recently, he donated a hybrid practice piano to the School of Music. “I try not to be too biased toward the Business School,” he says with a laugh. “When I came back to campus in 2016, we had our first Campaign Cabinet meeting and were given a tour of the different faculties. When we were in Denton Hall, we learned that there wasn’t always funding for something simple like a new piano for students to practise on. So that was something I wanted to do.”
Then, in 2019, he created the Francis Yip Endowment for Student Opportunity in Business. This endowment enables the Manning School of Business to provide support for student participation in case competitions, research projects, international exchanges, and other special opportunities.
“I’ve always wanted to give something back to the school that benefited me so much,” he says. “This allows me to give specifically to students most in need of funding and to give them the benefit of Acadia and the experience I had. Having it set up a year before COVID-19 hit was a blessing, because the pandemic disrupted many students’ educations and access to funding. I also wanted this gift to be long term – to last 10 years or more.”
Why come back to Acadia?
As guest speaker at the School of Business banquet in 2017, Francis was asked, “Why do you come back to Acadia?”
In his speech’s closing words, he said this: “I’ve been out in the business world for 30 years, and it can be a dog-eat-dog world. Sometimes you come back to Wolfville and Acadia just to get a sense of tranquillity and sanity.”
Now, as he reflects, he says, “I hope it doesn’t need another Rod Morrison to bring alumni back to Acadia. We should not wait 26 years to rekindle our relationship with our alma mater.”