Prof Dato' Dr Ho Sinn Chye has been WOU’s Vice Chancellor since October 2012. Previously he has served as WOU’s Director of the Centre for Graduate Studies, Dean of the School of Science and Technology, Assistant Vice Chancellor (Academic Support) and Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic Affairs).
Academic Background An aquatic ecologist by training, Prof Dato' Dr Ho Sinn Chye is an alumnus of the English College in Johor Bahru. He received his BSc (Hons) in Ecology in 1970 and MSc in Limnology in 1973 from Universiti Malaya (UM), Kuala Lumpur. He earned his doctorate degree in 1979 from the Christian-Albretchs University in Kiel, Germany. His PhD research on periphyton production in a freshwater lake was carried out entirely at the Max-Planck Institute for Limnology in Ploen, Germany.
Contribution to Malaysia Education and Environmental Conservation Prof Dato' Dr Ho Sinn Chye served as a faculty member of Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) for 28 years (1973-2001), rising to become Professor and Dean of the School of Biological Sciences. It was in Penang that his interest and venture into marine science research began in the early 1980s. “For as an aquatic ecologist living and working in Penang, I could not help but get my feet wet in seawater as well,” he quipped.
In 1997, he was seconded from USM to the Malaysian Wetlands Foundation in Kuala Lumpur to serve as its Director of Environmental Education and Research in the government-funded Paya Indah Wetlands Restoration and Park Project.
In 2000, hewas appointed by the then Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment (MOSTE) to set up the National Oceanography Directorate (NOD) in the Ministry. There he served as its first Director from 2000 to 2006 framing and promoting the national agenda of developing marine sciences research in the country, especially in Malaysian universities.
An ardent practitioner of environmental conservation, he was once the National Vice President of the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS), and a member of the Malaysian Society of Marine Science Council (MSMS) and of the Board of Directors of Wetland International Malaysia (WIM).
He thus brings with him some 40 years of experience in university teaching and research. His foray into distance education began in USM where he played an active part during the inception and developmental stages of USM’s off-campus programme in the early 1980s.
International Recognition Prof Dato' Dr Ho Sinn Chye was Secretary-General and later President (from 1 Oct 2012) of the Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU) when the University was elected to take over the helm of AAOU for a three-year term from 1 January 2011 to 31 December 2013. AAOU has a membership of 74 higher education institutions distributed across Asia.
At various stages of his professional career, he has participated actively as a member of Malaysian delegations in many international meetings convened by the Inter-Governmental Oceanographic Commission, UNESCO Paris; United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in New York; Convention on Biological Diversity in Montreal. He represented the East Asia region in the Scientific and Technical Review Panel of Ramsar Wetlands Convention Bureau; and served as Chairman of the Sub-Committee on Marine Science and Technology under the ASEAN Committee on Science and Technology.
State and Federal Government Awards In recognition of his contributions to the university, State, nation and society, he was bestowed the Darjah Setia Pangkuan Negeri award which carries the title of Dato’ by the State Government of Penang in 2006.
He was awarded the Bintang Johan Setia Mahkota (JSM) in 1999 and the Bintang Kesatria Mangku Negara (KMN) in 1998, both by the Federal Government, and the Pingat Kelakuan Terpuji (PKT) by the Penang State Government in 1994.
Prof Dato' Dr Ho Sinn Chye assured that he is committed to upholding and building on the strong foundation and excellent work done by his two predecessors. By working closely with the Wawasan Education Foundation (WEF) and colleagues at all levels in the University, he aims to ensure that WOU will continue to provide the enabling environment and learning opportunities to as many Malaysians as possible. “One of our main goals is to make WOU the preferred institution of higher education for those working adults who wish to receive quality yet affordable tertiary education, or pick up new knowledge and skills while still hanging on to their jobs” he added.
Personal Anecdotes Born in Ipoh, Prof Dato' Dr Ho Sinn Chye grew up and received his early education in his hometown of Johor Bahru.
He is married to Gan Chong Moi and the couple is blessed with one son, Stephen, daughter-in-law, Sharon, and one granddaughter, Shen-Yi.
He was good in badminton during his younger days; he represented his school and later on UM and USM in various competitions. He was for many years the advisor and chief instructor to staff and students in the Karate Club of USM.
During his leisure, he likes to play the acoustic guitar, a hobby he took up since his secondary schooling days. He still practises on his Spanish guitar regularly today, “mainly to relax at the end of a long day, but also to keep his hands and finger joints in shape and arthritis at bay,” he added. He tries to keep himself fit these days by taking long walks up hill roads/slopes on weekends. He is often viewed by colleagues as a techie who surfs the Internet frequently to keep abreast with IT and multimedia development and tools.