Alumni and I
I received my BS in nuclear engineering in 1972 from National Tsing-Hua University in Taiwan and my PhD in engineering in 1980 from Kansas State University. I worked for Bell Laboratory and different universities during my thirty-odd years in the US. I was the Head of the Department of Industrial Engineering at Texas A&M University, and Dean of Engineering at the University of Tennessee.
Based on good communication and frequent contact, I have a detailed understanding of the valuable contributions that alumni make to the development of an alma mater. These contributions are invariably selfless, direct and without reservation.
Exchanges with alumni
CityU boasts a large band of over 100,000 alumni, built up over the years since the University was founded in 1984. I am in regular communication with these former CityU students and maintain close contact with the Chairman of the CityU Convocation Standing Committee and the committee members. More importantly, I attach a great deal of value to the development of the Convocation and the helpful suggestions of its members.
I have regular exchanges with alumni through events such as the "Dialogues with the President" series organised by the Alumni Relations Office and the Convocation. In addition to alumni activities in Hong Kong, the Alumni Relations Office organises activities in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Taipei. Last week saw another alumni gathering, this time in Xi'an. Almost on every occasion, no matter whether it is in Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai or Shenzhen, an alumna makes a graceful and pleasant appearance.
On a number of occasions when I have been travelling on business, I have bumped into alumni and their family members. These alumni work in various occupations and I always make time to have amiable chats with them, on planes, at immigration checkpoints at Hong Kong airport, the waiting room at Beijing airport, on the campus of Shanghai Jiaotong University, as well as at various meetings and conferences in Paris, Nanjing, Shenzhen, and even in the streets of Taipei, fast food restaurants in Hong Kong and other places.
Over 2,000 alumni, students, staff and their family members participated in the Homecoming Gala on campus on 28 October 2012 where the versatility, diversity, harmony and caring spirit of the campus community was on show. One of the alumni who came from Shanghai invited me to have a picture taken with him and his six-year-old boy, saying he was proud of his alma mater. Moments like this make me appreciate just how strongly alumni feel about CityU.
Support from alumni
Generous alumni from any institution make bigger contributions and provide greater support for the University. The constructive suggestions that they put forward are selfless and not at all self-serving. They demand nothing in return. This is true with CityU alumni. A great deal of substantial support comes from such kind-hearted alumni, and they inspire us to work even harder for the University.
Here I would like to relate a true story. It was not long after I came to CityU that an alumnus appeared in my office with a very big bag of gifts to be given as rewards and prizes in raffle activities for the upcoming Spring Festival staff party. He expressed his views on campus development and, ever since then, he has invariably shown great care and support for CityU, whether for the advancement of the University's ranking, the completion of a new building on campus, the plan to set up the overseas exchange fund for the students, the plan to establish a School of Veterinary Medicine, or when he learned of prejudiced media reports criticising the University.
He is a successful entrepreneur, but certainly not one of the richest tycoons in Hong Kong. Sometimes I feel somewhat "uneasy" that he constantly "goes to such expense", but he insists that he sees CityU as his home and his donations to his alma mater are nothing but "spending money" for the family, which, he says, is one of the driving motives for him to work hard. In the past couple of years, I have come to know scores of warm-hearted alumni like him, all of whom are outstanding people in their own professions and trades. In addition, they have arranged for me to meet influential contacts in cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Taipei.
Such people unconditionally support and promote the University's visionary objectives such as the establishment of the School of Veterinary Medicine in the making, the energy-efficiency environmental protection plan in process, science and technology transfer activities, and sustainable teaching and research. Learning that I planned to raise HK$50 million for undergraduate international exchange programmes, many of our alumni inquired about raising money for the fund and offered generous donations without a moment's hesitation.
We have already exceeded the initial HK$50 million target, well in advance of expectations. In addition, some members of the CityU Convocation were only too willing to participate in the activities about career development for their fellow students, day and night, unselfishly. In March this year, when two national congresses were held in Beijing, a group of CityU alumni headed by Mr Herman Hu Shao-ming, our Council Chairman, submitted a bill in support of establishing the School of Veterinary Medicine at CityU. All the congress attendees were aware of this bill.
CityU spares no effort in raising donations from all social sectors, funds and institutions, aiming at utilising social resources to provide quality education for young people. A large proportion of the donations raised so far have come from alumni in addition to philanthropists. The donors are not necessarily business moguls or extremely wealthy people, but their love for their alma mater is worthy of our respect. The University has mapped out a blue-print for further developments over the coming years, encompassing essential items that will enrich student learning, enhance teaching and research, and promote the strategic development of the University in terms of its professional education and social contributions.
Encouragement from alumni
You may be wondering, out of curiosity, why alumni show so much concern about and demonstrate so much care towards the University. Alumni with a strong sense of social obligation are well aware of the role that the University plays in society. They are part and parcel of the University, sharing in all the ups and downs that the University experiences. I believe all graduates want to hear people say positive things about the institution of higher learning that they attended. In normal circumstances, everyone would do their utmost to safeguard the reputation of their own community rather than washing their dirty linen in public. Only "unfilial descendants" will pay little heed or, worse, may mar the reputation of his or her institution.
Thanks to the hard work of the Alumni Relations Office, we have expanded our alumni network from Hong Kong to Shenzhen, from Shanghai to Beijing, and then to Taipei, Singapore, Australia, even to the US and Canada, assembling a strong force of support for the development of CityU. In a dozen cities across the world, enthusiastic alumni acting as ambassadors help promote the alumni network. Especially worthy of praise are the efforts of members of the Eminence Society, a distinguished alumni group, who promote and make donations to CityU on various occasions, formal or informal.
It is not unusual that enthusiastic alumni voluntarily offer suggestions and give financial assistance. The following is a message I received from an alumnus last Christmas about raising donations for the University:
"We intend to mobilise alumni to help raise funds. Every year we will contact ten different religious and charity organisations to recommend ten needy families for whom we will hold a heart-warming party on the eve of Chinese New Year. Each child from these families will receive a Lai See red envelope as a gift from CityU. This kind of event not only encourages needy families at the end of the year, it also gives a positive image to CityU, cultivating a strong sense of social responsibility and reinforcing the alumni's bond with the University. If the university authorities think my plan is feasible, I am ready to coordinate the plan and pledge to contribute or raise at least HK$100,000 each year for ten successive years. I hope that you will take time to consider my suggestion. Feeling much blessed."
The strategic plan to raise funds for the proposed establishment of CityU's School of Veterinary Medicine is in good shape, too, thanks to the encouragement and support of alumni who enhance our fund-raising capabilities by making contacts with alumni and philanthropists in mainland China, especially in such regions as Jiangsu and Shanghai.
In addition, an enthusiastic alumnus made a donation as soon as he learned that CityU was going to compete in the 2012 Taipei Marathon on 16 December last year, helping to organise a delegation of 82 students, alumni and faculty members for the event. Meanwhile, CityU's Alumni Relations Office and the Eminence Society co-organised a four-day alumni exchange tour to Taipei. The fifty-odd members of the tour group visited many renowned people such as Dr Lien Chan, Dr Stan Shih, Dr Lung Ying-tai and Mr Robert Wu Qing-yu. This sort of "ice-breaking" outreach activity enhances CityU's international image, brings its alumni together and strengthens unity and harmony within the CityU community.
Alumni and campus internationalisation at CityU
The internalisation of the University means that the composition of our student and faculty bodies is becoming more diversified and CityU's international reputation is enhanced. With the support of alumni from different social sectors all over the world, we will continue to promote diversity on campus. The development of CityU, like our marathon team, is going beyond Hong Kong to reach Taipei, and then to Beijing, Seoul, Tokyo, New York, Paris and Moscow!
I firmly believe that, with the support and encouragement of our alumni, we will continue to promote the internationalisation of academia, the modernisation of teaching and research, and make better contributions to society.
May 27, 2013