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Hoi was born and raised in Hong Kong. His father founded Cathay Arts, a company that specialized in fine traditional Chinese furniture and art objects. He emigrated as a teenager with his family to the U.S. where he attended Columbia College of Columbia University in New York City and graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, with a BA in French and psychology.[when?] He earned a J.D. degree from Columbia Law School and became a member of the New York State Bar. Shortly thereafter, he entered Parsons School of Design and received a degree in illustration.
Hoi is an advocate for art and design education and creative professionals in social, economic, and cultural advancement. At Otis, he has shepherded new academic initiatives involving innovative partnerships and community engagement, such as the Otis Integrated Learning Program. Since 2007, Otis commissioned the annual Otis Report on the Creative Economy of the Los Angeles Region.
Prior to joining Otis, Hoi served as director of the Paris campus of Parsons School of Design. He was then dean of the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington, D.C.. While at the Corcoran, Hoi created the Visual Arts Community Outreach Program, serving the inner-city youth of Washington, D.C. from 1991 to 2000. The program received a National Multicultural Institute Award and a Coming Up Taller Award from the President’s Committee on Arts and Humanities.
He has juried numerous exhibitions and served on panels for the National Endowment for the Arts, Ford Foundation, Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, Surdna Foundation, Wallace Foundation, the DC Commission on Art and Humanities, and the California Community Foundation.
Hoi has served on boards for many organizations, including the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), the Arena Stage, Arts and Humanities Education Collaborative, Inc., Washington Lawyers for the Arts, and the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, Inc. From 2004 to 2009, he chaired the board of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD). Currently, he is chair of the board of United States Artists (USA), serves on the board of The James Irvine Foundation, and is a member of the Los Angeles Coalition for the Economy and Jobs. He also serves on the National Advisory Board of the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP).
Awards & honors
Hoi holds an honorary doctorate from the Corcoran. In 2006, and was decorated by the French government as an Officer of the Ordre des Palmes Académiques. In addition, he is a recipient of the City of Angels Award from the LAX Coastal Chamber of Commerce and the Artistic License Award from California Lawyers for the Arts.
Hoi's preference for cowboy boots developed when he was finishing his law degree at Columbia University. Already interested in dress as a way of visibly meshing a multicultural background, he decided that cowboy boots were an ideal fit in more ways than one. They were comfortable and suitable to his long stride and natural rhythm while versatile enough to wear with anything from jeans to suits. When people noticed his boots, he was pleased; not only did the boots reinforce his desire to be more individualistic, "they were a symbolic indication of my enrichment, the boot being something of the West and also a foreshadowing of my coming to Los Angeles." 
- Dean of Design, Samuel Hoi Interview Los Angeles Business Journal, July 24, 2000
- Arts Education and the Economy, from Which Way LA?, a radio program of KCRW
- KCET Video Interview with Sammy Hoi
- Report of the Creative Economy of the Los Angeles Region
- Speech by President Samuel Hoi at Otis College of Art and Design Commencement, 2003
- President's Messages
- "Interview with Sammy Hoi" in Garb: A Fashion and Culture Reader, edited by Parme Giuntini and Kathryn Hagen
- Video Interview with Samuel Hoi
- "MICA names Samuel Hoi as Next President". MICA. Retrieved 17 February 2014.
- "Interview with Sammy Hoi" in Garb: A Fashion and Culture Reader," edited by Parme Giuntini and Kathryn Hagen, Prentice Hall, 2007. p. 47.