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20 November 2015

2015 Congregation
President's Speech

Distinguished guests, graduates, parents, friends and colleagues,

Today, we celebrate the achievements of bright, enthusiastic young minds at this graduation ceremony. Graduates, we are proud of your success. We are also delighted to confer honorary doctorates on five distinguished individuals, who serve as eminent role models as to what can be achieved in very different areas and circumstances with determination, drive, and integrity.

Indeed, I would like to spend the next few minutes on what you as HKUST graduates will take away from the years you have spent here. It should not only be a degree.

What does HKUST stand for? What distinguishes us from other institutions? What principles can guide you in the future as graduates of this great and youthfully vibrant institution? We may each have our own ideas on this. But we also have a collective HKUST community vision, clearly articulated in our core values.

The crystallization of these values emerged following wide-reaching consultation, which began about a year ago and involved all members of the University – faculty, students, staff, alumni, and Court and Council members. Rewardingly, consensus was readily found on the intrinsic spirit and aspirations embedded at the heart of HKUST as a university and I hope all HKUST family members.

Such values will make you as a HKUST graduate distinctive at work, as a leader, and as a thoughtful and responsible citizen in whichever part of the world you choose to put down roots.

The first set of core values is “Excellence, Integrity, and Academic Freedom”. This expresses our commitment to excellence in everything we do, while placing utmost importance on the freedom to conduct academic activities, subject to the highest standards of academic integrity and honesty.

The second set of values is “Global Vision and Local Commitment” – to be a global leader in research and education, and also in providing global perspectives and experiences for our students, while upholding our responsibility to the local community.

The third set of values is something that I have often heard others say about us, and that is a “Can-do Spirit” – cherishing and embodying the spirit of risk-taking, willingness to overcome challenges, innovativeness, creativeness, and confidence. When faced with a new idea or initiative, we don’t look for ways it cannot be done or recollect past failures. We ask instead whether it is worth doing, and how to utilize prior experience to better undertake the task.

The fourth set of values is “Inclusiveness, Diversity, and Respect” – valuing and respecting the differences of individuals, in ideas, culture, gender, ethnicity, nationality, religion and social background, and striving to embrace these diverse forces to foster an inclusive and caring environment to make us all better as individuals. In today’s increasingly globalized world with its huge social, economic and environmental challenges, it is even more imperative to embrace diversity and be open to combining the collective insights of others to find better solutions to problems.

The final value we have set down is certainly unique. We call this the “1-HKUST” spirit – the entire HKUST family working together as an integrated and holistic team with a view to making the whole of our University's mission bigger than the sum of its parts. It means students, faculty, staff and alumni have their different roles but are also all part of the HKUST community. It means different Schools have their own domains and strengths but also work across disciplinary boundaries in both research and education.

One hundred years ago, the President of Harvard University predicted that it would take 200 years to create a research university. This year marks the 25th anniversary of HKUST, and I would say we have already made quite a name for ourselves. Our achievements as a research university are now studied by our peers around the world. Let us in the next 25 years make an equally powerful contribution through our distinctively “HKUST” values.

Our alumni have already launched us on our way, with flying colors. Now, as you step out beyond our campus, it is your turn to make a difference and continue to build critical mass. Not only in what you achieve, but also how you achieve it. Keep the core values of HKUST in your heart, be confident of your own capabilities, and tackle the challenges you face head-on. In so doing, you will change tomorrow’s world for the better and you will make us proud.


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