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31 August 2011

New Student Convocation
President's Speech

Students, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen:

Welcome! Today is the first day of your new life at HKUST. Beginnings are always full of hope and excitement. For many of you, coming to university means leaving home for the first time. For some of you, it means living in a strange new city. But this too is an adventure and a new experience. If you come from far away, I want you to feel especially welcome. And if this is your home city, make others feel welcome. I want you all to feel united in belonging to the HKUST family.

As its newest members, you have every reason to be proud of HKUST. Our university is very young and you are here in time to help celebrate its 20th anniversary. But we have come a long way! In case you haven't heard, this year, we are ranked the no. 1 university in Asia. You will see many overseas visitors coming to our campus to find out the secret of our success. If you are proud of our record of success, give HKUST and yourself a big, big hand!

But let me tell you. We are not satisfied with our achievements, wonderful as they are. We want to be even better. And one way we keep getting better is by making sure that all our students receive the best possible education we can provide. Your success is the best guarantee of the university's future reputation!

Besides welcoming you, I'll limit the rest of my remarks to only two topics: first, some advice about getting the most from what HKUST has to offer, and second, a reminder about your responsibility as a member of the HKUST family.

First, some advice. Some wise man once said: "Education is what is left after you have forgotten everything you have learned." University is not just about lectures, exams and career preparation. It is much more than that. It is about exploring new interests, finding your passion in life, developing your character, meeting people from different backgrounds and making lifelong friends, and ultimately getting to know yourself better. Open your hearts and minds to new people and new experiences. Be curious and try something new. Try a course, or even a major, that you have never heard of in high school. At the same time, be critical and committed to doing your best in anything you do.

In this global age, when you graduate, your first job will not be your last. You may go through many jobs and even different occupations. But I can tell you who will do well in this global age: those who dare to see things differently, those who take pride in doing things better than others, and those who see opportunities in difficulties. These are the skills of a leader. Remember, HKUST is a place for educating leaders.

Life is all about experience. As a university student, you should welcome different experiences. At HKUST, we have plenty to offer you. Take advantage of our First Year Success Program that aims at helping you settle down in UST, participate in our overseas exchanges to get an international experience, serve the community through our REDBIRD and CONNECT programs, , try our wildly successful Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program and attend the many concerts and musicals performed by your fellow students, . Remember: work hard and play hard!

Now I come to the responsibility part of my speech. A university student has responsibilities as well as rights. You have the right to have your opinions heard. But you also have the responsibility of hearing other people's views, especially if they are different from yours. Tolerance and respect for others are hallmarks of a well-educated person. When you are having fun, make sure you do not disturb others who want to study or work.

The fine facilities on our campus have been built for your needs and enjoyment. That is your right. But you also have a shared responsibility to keep them clean and in good working order.

There is another word you will hear a lot at HKUST. That word is "integrity". It means "personal honesty". In academic terms, this means that you will acknowledge ideas that you have borrowed from others, and that you do not simply copy them from the internet and other sources and claim them as your own.

So in conclusion, be proud of your university. Whether we will continue to do well internationally depends to a large extent on how well you do. A university is only as good as its students and graduates. Remember, too, that this is the HKUST big family. The next time you see an unfamiliar face from a different country or city, stretch out your hand of friendship. This is how you grow your global networks, and grow your personality. We even have a term for this spirit: 1-HKUST!

Finally, may you have a wonderful year at Asia's #1 university!


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