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27 January 2011

Long Service Award Ceremony 2011
President's Speech

Colleagues, students, and family members who are here to witness this ceremony,

Let me begin by wishing you all health and happiness in the new year!

What a way to begin our new year! I am glad it is also the first major event in the celebration of the university's 20th anniversary. Today, we have come to honor you, the unsung heroes in the university's first 20 years. Today we honor over to 250 of our loyal and long-serving employees, among whom are faculty members, who for the first time, are being so recognized since the Long Service Award began. Without you, without people like you, we wouldn't be where we are today.

20 years ago, we began an impossible dream. Today, we are the template for other aspiring universities. We are the magnet that attracts visitors by the busloads to our campus to find out what it is that we are doing right. Some people are calling HKUST an academic miracle. But who are the miracle makers? It is you! You have achieved extraordinary results by doing seemingly ordinary work, day in and day out, over 20 long years. You seed in the spring, weed in the summer and now, harvest in the fall.

20 years is a long time in a person's life. Many of you came here when you were young and you have aged together with the university. Many of you have started your own families, in addition to joining the HKUST family. So, whether we measure these years individually or collectively, you have much to show for the time you spent here. To you belong the rare honor of being the pioneers who helped the university take its first baby steps, until it is now marching confidently into the future. To our trail-blazing faculty members will forever belong the honor of having laid the foundation for excellence in research and education. Because of you, we have reasons to be proud of our university.

I know how incredibly hard you have been working. I know that many of you have worked unsocial hours, focused only on doing your utmost for the university. If your family complain that you are married to HKUST, they are probably right to say so.

But look at what you have achieved! Perfection is statistically impossible. But what you have done is near-perfect. If our media friends here are wondering, as other people are wondering, how HKUST is able to achieve so much in so short a time, the answer is here in this hall. It is our people, who are duty-driven, results-oriented, and time-tested. This spirit is difficult to explain to outsiders, but I can tell you that it is unequalled anywhere. You have helped build this university up, brick by brick, course by course, student by student. Thanks to you, we have climbed higher and faster than people dream possible. We may not be the biggest or the oldest, but thanks to you, we are certainly one of the best. From China to Peru, you will not find a young university that has done as well as we do.

As we celebrate the university's 20th birthday this year, our spirit is ever strong and our dream is in overdrive. When good people are united in a great cause, nothing is impossible. They say that the spirit can move mountains. You are our mountain-moving team.

The certificate and the souvenir you are about to receive is only a token of how much the university owes you. We are not a 900-year old university like Oxford. But what a fantastic 20 years it has been! It has been a wonderful voyage. This ship definitely couldn't have sailed without you. Now, as the university sails into its third decade, we have a bigger dream to chase. Our university, our city and our country need us to sail on strong and free, crossing and conquering new frontiers, with our old magic spirit.

Thank you.


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