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27 June 2013

Honorary Fellowship Ceremony
President's Speech

Council Vice Chairman Mr Martin Tang, honorees, families and friends of honorees, colleagues, students, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

Today, I come to that part of my official duty that I look forward to each year with particular pleasure and eagerness this time of the year. Today, we are gathered here to honor a small select group of people who have moved the needle for this university and the wider community. For their extraordinary personal achievement and exemplary public service, they will shortly be inducted into our academic hall of fame as honorary fellows of this university. The HKUST family grows bigger and mightier with these new members.

The four outstanding individuals, each leader in their own field, remind me of the famous words of Angela Merkel, the current German Chancellor. In fact the words she spoke are not really hers, but are those of her father’s. But the German leader loves to share them when the mood moves her. This is what the fatherly advice boils down to: “Never appear to be more than you are. Always be more than you appear.”

These wise words sum up the essence of the people we honor on this special day in our calendar. Shortly, you will hear a citation that paints a profile of who they are, and what they have done. But a citation is never exhaustive in content, or we will surely miss our lunch today. Outstanding leaders always have something indefinable in addition to what is describable. They are like human icebergs—you only see the tip, much of their goodness is below water. But, there is no doubt as to their impact on the rest of society.

Going at random, if I don’t tell you, you probably wouldn’t know that the musical interludes provided by the two HKUST students at this ceremony are made possible because Prof Nishizaki has invested precious hours in coaching them personally. Prof Zhang Ya-Qin, who has a million and one things competing for his attention, is personally instrumental in building up the close relationship between Microsoft Asia and HKUST. Mr Cheah Cheng Hye, a highly principled and ethical value investor, is an unusual benefactor. You don’t knock on his door for support. He comes knocking on ours to offer help. As for Dr Robin Chan, a man of modesty who prefers to speak through his actions, he offers a form of philanthropy which in the words of his son Bernard in a recent SCMP article is more than just writing a check. He has offered us his time, having served with distinction as our Council and Court member.

Ladies and gentlemen, there is something else about these good people. They exemplify the values we try to impart to our students: the values of innovation, calculated risk-taking and the spirit of experimentation. They dare to think differently and act boldly when others hesitate or merely contemplate. They are ideal models for our students. By your applause, I ask that you help me induct these outstanding leaders into the proud HKUST family. Thank you.


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