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7 February 2013

Named Professorship Ceremony
President's Speech

Colleagues, distinguished guests, students, friends and families of HKUST:

I have seldom seen so much intellectual horsepower concentrated in one room. Before you are some of the finest scholars in the world who are driving our mission for academic greatness. These 13 disciples of excellence, coming from different disciplines, have been trained by the world's leading universities. Through them we see the depth of talent of this young university.

These 13 are united by one thing: the relentless pursuit of passion. In doing so, they dare to go down the road least travelled. In doing so, they see the uncommon in the common, and the extraordinary in the ordinary. And in doing so, they have helped to bring wave after wave of international recognition to this young university, including our latest global no. 8 MBA rankings just released by the Financial Times, and the top university in Asia, two years running, according to QS. I have always said that we don't live for rankings, but in my travels around the world, these multiple recognitions have opened the eyes and doors of the world's leading universities. If you wonder why a twenty-something university can outrun and outperform our much older and better established peers, you should find your answer in these faces, in these brains.

I always believe that passionate researchers make great teachers, one of the miracles of education being able to infect and transform your students with your passion. Because of you some of our students are able to find themselves, their purpose in life and their place in the world. It is a beautiful thing to behold, whenever that unfolds.

So today, we are here to honor these innovative scholars and inspirational teachers who lay our foundation and lay our claim to international excellence.

But excellence does not grow on trees. It exists in a duality—a duality of talent and sponsorship. Talent sprouts on the soil made fertile by those with heart and financial muscle. They are out in force here today for this inaugural ceremony. We have come this far because, at critical times in our development, our friends are there to help us build a critical mass of talent that has taken the world by surprise. Because of them, excellence and creativity are flourishing here. Today, 13 outstanding professors are receiving their just reward and recognition. But equally deserving of recognition and gratitude are our friends, trusted and true. So, I invite you to join me in giving our supporters a loud round of applause for their vision, faith and generosity!

In the world of higher education, no university is great without the great support of its community. This university always delivers more than it promises. With friends like these, I can feel it in my bones that greater achievements are in the cards. Our best days are yet to come.

In the West, 13 is called the baker's dozen. I can tell you that with the support of our friends, we have a lot more of them in the oven. As our reputation grows and our community support broadens, I know that the incoming talent flow will turn into a torrent, to the good of this university and the greater good of the community and the country. Thank you.


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