我於前年成立「校長學術講座系列」（President's Lecture Series） ，安排大學內的卓越學者為大家輪流介紹他們的最新科研成果。應邀演講者遍及大學各個學科領域，至今已安排了15 場演講，專家深入淺出的精彩報告，每場吸引聽眾多達170至350位，講者才情兼備，揮灑自如，令人「如沐春風」，獲益不淺，感激不盡。
Teachers and I
In a university teachers are the providers of nutrition and are the main body for inheritance and creation.
I believe that people play an important role in any government office, corporation, enterprise or educational institution. As Mei Yiqi, former president of Tsinghua University, noted "What are the chief ingredients that make up an institution of higher learning? Not tall buildings, but masterminds. In CityU, the students and I accord due respect to and place high expectations upon teachers. It is the wish of the students that they are granted a chance to learn from excellent teachers who are dedicated to their educational cause. It is similar to those who set their minds on learning martial arts. Why would you take the trouble of going to Shaolin Monastery on Mount Song if it wasn't to learn from the best masters?
For this reason, I have expended a great deal of energy recruiting first-rate professors and excellent personnel from across the world since assuming the CityU presidency in 2008. I have done my utmost to be courteous to and honour worthy professors, with an eye only on increasing our University's cultural, intellectual and academic force, with the engagement of an increasing number of talented scholars in scientific research and the training of our students. Through our Performance-based Pay Scheme, we have rewarded and retained internal staff noted for their professional decency and excellence.
Based on my 34 years' experience in the US, I perceive that the social atmosphere for cultural diversity is not sufficiently favorable. There is still room left for further improvement. That is why I have attached value to a diversification of backgrounds when recruiting new teachers. Because society is so diversified and international these days, we should pay special heed to the diversification of our teaching force, academic pursuits and cultural views in addition to increasing our stock of knowledge about varied and international elements. Since 2008, CityU has recruited 290 outstanding scholars, half of whom are from 26 countries and regions throughout the world, and the rest from the mainland and Hong Kong itself.
In recruiting teachers, I proposed that we should adopt the criteria and standard practices used in advanced colleges and universities in the US and Europe, and that we only take into account applicants' ability and integrity. Gender, age, religious belief, nationality, place of origin, political stance and other factors play no role at all in appointments. "Making friends with those who are no less capable or virtuous than themselves" is the motto for those at home and abroad who seek to cultivate themselves. Professors know their peers best. Therefore, I hope that we can recruit more high-calibre professors with their recommendation and support. In this respect, some units within the University have done quite well.
I have also noticed that a large number of teachers in CityU well understand the responsibility to "transmit the wealth of human knowledge, impart necessary skills and clear up whatever may confound the mind". Likewise, they know the expectation is that they fulfill their teaching and research duties. They depend entirely on their rich knowledge and special expertise. Among them, there are erudite and admirable academic authorities and top scientists, energetic and thriving young teachers and outstanding middle-aged scholars. Teachers are the elite of intellectuals, for they are civilised and inclined to deal with all affairs in a rational manner. I urge them to set themselves up as inspiring models to encourage their students to attach a great deal of value to a range of learning options and to carefully choose one's career path and adhere to a righteous mode of life.
Integration of Teaching and Scientific Research – the Epitome of University Spirit
The integration of teaching and scientific research is the noblest way for a university to pursue academic excellence. Confucius once remarked，"To study without thinking is futile; to think without studying is perilous." Life changes quickly in this era. If a teacher only teaches but does not do any research, the teaching material will be outdated. Students will notice right away if they fail to benefit from this kind of teaching. If one spends time on research but does not engage in teaching, the students will not gain, either. What do we mean by the integration of teaching and research? The traditional understanding, which aligned with the conventional understanding in Hong Kong, was that teaching and research were divorced from, if not at odds with, each other. This outdated view is both groundless and remote from reality. No student is unwilling to learn from first-rate scholars who, in the students' eyes, must have magical powers just like the famed masters of martial arts. In a university, the "famed masters of martial arts" are outstanding teachers who have successfully integrated teaching with research.
In a university, students not only seek to acquire techniques; they also endeavour to bring creativity into full play and demonstrate sufficient initiative. If we wish to turn out quality students equipped with bright and breakthrough ideas, we need teachers who can inspire students with fresh notions within a great tradition and heritage. Through constant contact with students, teachers can make steady progress in their work, retain their passion for exploring new fields of research, and enlighten students with the fresh fruits of their research.
Since assuming my position at CityU, I have worked hard to support strategic measures for changing the current curriculum and implemented new curriculum with the theme of "emphasising exploration and seeking creativity" and strengthened the integration of learning and research in undergraduate education. We aim at providing every student with a chance to make his own explorations while studying in CityU. We believe that students, imperceptibly influenced in such a favorable climate for creativity, are most likely to foster the habit of discovering new possibilities and creating new modes on their own before they step into society for a career so as to make themselves sufficiently capable of responding to the social challenges of globalisation.
When the integration of teaching/ learning and research becomes standard practice in a university, teachers and students can experience the bliss that Zhu Xi felt on the outing which he captured in his poem, "Spring Day":
Searching for fragrant flowers in the daylight, I found myself in the boundless seas of new sights.
Enjoying east breezes in leisurely hours, I took in the rich profusion of spring flowers.
University Experience – a Tireless Journey for Knowledge and Truth
CityU applies itself to recruit first-class professors and very promising young scholars across the world. It takes a great deal of effort to create a favorable climate for academic pursuits by advocating the notion of "integrating teaching and research". The aim is to encourage professors and scholars to offer a quality education for students and to pursue research into issues such as exploration, creativity and problem analysis, with solutions that should be conducive to social and economic development. Over the years, CityU has won a great deal of praise in terms of the number and amount of grants for its research projects. CityU is less than 30 years old but ranks 95th among the universities in the world and 12th in Asia. For this remarkable achievement, I would like to show my special respect to all the teachers and scholars at CityU.
A number of outstanding teachers are selected from different schools, colleges and disciplines every year in CityU for the Teaching Excellence Awards. Although they are of different ages and different lengths of experiences in CityU, these teachers are dedicated to their teaching careers, putting a great deal of effort into make new breakthroughs while inheriting traditional merits in their teaching and research. One of the extraordinary sights in the University is that some teachers are on very friendly terms with their students and take them out to dinner where they can talk about the students' plans face to face and encourage them to set lofty ideals. Equally praiseworthy are those senior professors at CityU who are often seen mingling with their students, setting a good example, furnishing them with knowledge and recommending them through their social network. They cherish a very noble wish that their students will catch up with and even exceed them in academic pursuits one day, and that their joint efforts will push academic studies into a new boundary and a higher sphere.
In addition to going to class, a teacher can use his or her time to compile textbooks, design pedagogical software, construct teaching models, explore new teaching methods, provide guidance to students in their studies and life, answer questions they might have, and explore overseas academic exchange possibilities. In short, we may conclude that so long as a teacher has a willing heart, he or she can make himself a boon to the students in various ways. I invariably feel happy whenever I see that teachers in CityU have been blessed with teaching rewards or granted financial assistance in their research projects, or have won honours and social recognition for their breakthroughs and inventions in their teaching and scientific research, for I feel that the advancement of the University will benefit students and society at large in the final analysis.
CityU has held some high-level academic activities worth mentioning, one of which is the President's Lecture Series that I established the year before last. I provide a forum for outstanding professors at the University to talk about the results or latest advances in their research. So far there have been 15 lectures, all of which have conveyed profound truths and transmitted the latest advances in science and the arts in plain terms and a simple language, attracting crowds of between 170 to 350 people. The lectures are vivid, convincing and inspiring, and have been of great benefit to the audience, and they embody a sense of responsibility for fostering the CityU culture and its spirit of progress.
Adhering to the Fundamentals by Going Deep and Professional
Over 2,000 years ago the Greek philosopher Socrates set a fine example for argument by reason. He held that whatever we do, we should begin with facts, and then proceed to reason via the rules of logic. That is the very principle by which I frequently share my views with students and society at large. The University enjoys a high degree of academic freedom. It is neither a profit-making corporation nor a political wrestling ground. If university teachers are allowed to cut corners in these areas, our higher education will have failed. It is not right to blame students, saying things have just gotten worse and worse over the years.
If students have indeed gotten worse over the years, it is because the teachers have gotten worse. Students learn by observing their teachers and by modeling their behaviour on them. All the contentiousness, all the prejudices and unfairness spread like a disease from the teachers to the students and then to society. In a university, we should never fail to reason things out based on evidence and facts. It would be ridiculous if we should do anything without rhyme or reason in a university. It is particularly important that teachers pay sufficient heed to the cultivation of moral integrity because they are the models that students look to.
I understand that high standards may cause unease. However, it is most important that everyone should rest assured that his or her talent will not go unnoticed forever. As long as one does his or her best, there are always places within the University where he or she can contribute. CityU boasts teachers and staff members who deserve to be cherished and put to great use. Dedicated and outstanding teachers always command my reverence and admiration.
It is essential that university teachers should endeavour to create and enjoy a favourable climate for their academic passion, pursuits and excellence, and students should seek to learn all that is refined, lofty and true. Every one of us is required to direct our efforts towards that goal. The credit for CityU's remarkable achievements so far should go to our teachers at all levels. Their contributions to the University are indispensable. I sincerely hope that CityU teachers and students and I will make joint efforts to work out new models based on our accumulated achievements to attain the ideal of the university for academic excellence by bringing into full play the explorative spirit of seeking after truth in scientific studies, striving for benevolence in the humanities, and going all out for beauty in creative studies.
April 22, 2013