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1 September 2009

University Welcome
President's Speech

Students, colleagues, parents:

Thank you.

A very warm welcome to ALL of you: students, faculty, staff - members of this HKUST family.

We are gathered here today to celebrate you: students and parents who have chosen this University; faculty and staff who have decided to join us; and all of you who have worked so hard to make this University a very special place.

This joyous day is also the very first day of my new life in Hong Kong and at UST. I am not new to Hong Kong of course, because I am a Hong Konger by birth and finished Form 7 before I left for the US. What an emotional homecoming this is! For me as it is for you, this day begins a new year - a new chapter of hopes and plans that opens up a whole new world, and promises of lifelong friendships.

This new year is full of challenges as well. It is almost impossible to fill the shoes of my predecessors Professors Chia-Wei Woo and Paul Chu, who have birthed this University and put us on the world map. But I know I can count on the support of my VPs, Deans and members of the faculty and staff to drive this University to greater heights of achievement. Together we will continue to build it into an institution of which we and future generations can be immensely proud.

This is also a time of unprecedented change, when the world is reeling from a global crisis - a crisis that is felt in every corner of the earth. The entire world's attention is now focused on China - not just looking for markets or cheap labor, but for inspiration, talents, and new ideas. We in Hong Kong are in a unique position to participate in that spectacular growth, spearhead the new knowledge revolution, and nurture new talents.

What other place in the world offers more exciting opportunities for growth, for expansion and for change than Hong Kong, and what better place to try out new ideas than HKUST?

Hong Kong's landscape of higher education is changing at a pace unimaginable just 5 years ago. As a young university, we have the flexibility, the openness, and the impulse for creativity that mark our special character. As a latecomer, we made an imprint on Hong Kong and we shall continue to impact the way university education and research are carried out.

As university students, you have the freedom and the responsibility to make independent decisions: to choose your classes, your course of study, your daily schedule, your friends, your future path in life. Through your participation in class and in activities, you will contribute to the making of a great university that will in turn make this city of Hong Kong the wonder of the world.

As faculty and staff, we have the opportunity to fashion university education as we have always dreamed it, just as we have benefitted from great institutions of learning before. It is incumbent upon us to seize this golden opportunity of 334 to make Hong Kong's education among the finest in the world.

The time is ripe for us to sharpen the special role of science and technology in Hong Kong, where, combined with our managerial expertise and entrepreneurial spirit, with human insight and social understanding, we shall jointly tackle the global grand challenges and educate a new generation of students for this challenge.

As your president, I shall work with you all to bring to this University the quality promised and entrusted to us by the people of Hong Kong.

It is rumored in some quarters that UST is the "University of Stress & Tension". I would like to see it become a University of Success and Triumph - a place that puts student learning first, that nurtures, encourages and celebrates knowledge, humanity, social responsibility and success, a place where science, technology, arts, culture, ingenuity and the entrepreneurial spirit triumph.

Thank you and welcome to HKUST!