Letter to Lingnanians
20 June 2016
You may recall that at the beginning of this academic year, I shared the good news that Lingnan University was named one of the “Top 10 Liberal Arts Colleges in Asia” by Forbes in 2015. With the end of the academic year upon us, I am very pleased to share another good news that Lingnan has been ranked no. 109 in the recently announced Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) University Rankings: Asia 2016, representing a significant jump from 142nd in 2015. This accomplishment is not only a recognition of the University’s commitment to excellence, but also a testament to our efforts in advancing the mission of providing the best liberal arts education to our students. On behalf of the University, I thank you all for your support as we strive to achieve our common goal.
At the same time, I would like to give you an update on the latest developments of Lingnan and some of the work we have taken during the last few months.
Audit Visit by the Quality Assurance Council
Lingnan colleagues’ determination to excel was best illustrated by our collective effort in preparation for the Second Quality Assurance Council (QAC) Audit’s on-site visit to Lingnan from 26 to 28 January this year. With the understanding that this quality audit is very important to our development and its findings will guide us to further enhance our academic excellence, our fellow colleagues and students had put in tremendous effort and worked really hard for months in preparing a comprehensive set of documents submitted to the QAC before the visit as well as meetings with the Audit Panel during its visit. Our alumni, employers, partners and many other stakeholders have supported us throughout the audit. Our effort towards the goal of our students’ whole-person development and the resultant educational value-added have been confirmed by the Quality Audit Panel’s commendations and words of encouragement. My salutation to everyone involved for your dedication and hard work!
While we have already received the final quality audit report from QAC, the official report will be released later in October. I will let you know more about the report around that time.
Recommendations for new initiatives/practices and affirmations of existing initiatives/practices by the QAC have been appropriately incorporated into the University’s new strategic plan (2016-2021), a topic to be covered below.
Partnership with the University Grants Committee
On 21 April 2016, the University Grants Committee (UGC) made a visit to Lingnan, the first of such kind since September 2013. Led by the UGC Chairman Mr Carlson Tong, the 25-member group met with our senior management, faculty members and students for an in-depth understanding of the University’s latest development, achievements and challenges.
Taking this great opportunity for direct communication between the UGC and the Lingnan community, I briefed the UGC members on our major developments, aspirations, strategic directions and initiatives. After discussion and exchanges with our colleagues as well as postgraduate and undergraduate students, our visitors were enthusiastic about, and impressed with, what Lingnan plans to do in the next 5-6 years. Besides endorsing our key strategic directions, the UGC has offered valuable suggestions to us and expressed a desire to work closely with us to tackle challenges we face. A believer in the UGC’s principle of role differentiation, Lingnan will work closely with the UGC to fulfill our vision of becoming a leading liberal arts university in Asia. My heartfelt thanks to our colleagues and students who did a great job in making the UGC visit a great success.
Strategic Plan for 2016-21
An important task the University has undertaken since September last year is the development of a new strategic plan for 2016-2021. With the intent to steer Lingnan to the next level of excellence, the plan addresses the education needs of the present and future generations. Under the leadership of a Steering Group, chaired by myself, we have examined the current positioning of Lingnan, revisited our vision and mission statements, and identified FIVE strategic areas which will direct Lingnan in the pursuit of its vision of becoming an internationally recognized and leading Asian liberal arts university. The five strategic areas are, namely, (1) academic development and research, (2) student development, (3) campus development, (4) institutional advancement, and (5) sub-degrees and continuing education.
Preparation of the strategic plan has been a challenging process, and I would like to express my sincere thanks to different University stakeholders (members of the Steering Group on Strategic Plan 2016-2021; Council and Court members; staff and students) for their most valuable contributions. Different drafts of the strategic plan were tabled for the Senate’s input at its meetings in March and April and a penultimate draft was endorsed by the Senate at its meeting on 30 May. A final draft strategic plan, which has incorporated suggestions made by the Senate members at that meeting and the Council members who attended a special meeting on 1 June, was submitted to the Council for discussion and action as appropriate on 13 June. The Strategic Plan approved by the Council will be uploaded to the University’s website in due course.
Active Student Participation
Student participation is an indispensable part of the University’s decision making, especially in respect of Lingnan’s major development initiatives. In this regard, the developments in the past semester were particularly fruitful. A notable example is the open forum organized by the Student Union and held on 19 April under the Skylight, where students actively and enthusiastically expressed their views on the Core Curriculum and General Education programmes. Prof Wong Yiu-chung, Associate Vice-President (Academic Affairs) and colleagues from the Core Curriculum and General Education Office joined me in listening to the students’ views and opinions, and their suggestions on how to improve the programmes. The views and suggestions collected have proven to be critically valuable to the recommendations made by a Core Curriculum review task force chaired by Prof Wong as well as the decisions made by the Senate on 30 May about the directions of changes of the Core Curriculum. I am grateful to the Student Union for making this most valuable contribution to a central feature of Lingnan’s liberal arts education.
Over the past few months, the Student Union, student representatives and individual students have also voiced out their views and constructive suggestions on many issues that are important to their learning, such as counselling service needs, our campus’s conditions and facilities, hostel fee adjustment mechanism, selection of catering service providers, and working conditions of our sub-contract workers through different platforms, etc. As always, students’ opinions are treated as important references, and student suggestions are dealt with seriously. I hope active student participation will continue, for the benefit of every members of the Lingnan community. I personally value every opinion from students, and look forward to a closer and more productive relationship with the Student Union and other students in the years ahead.
The summer heat marks the end of the current academic year. I would like to give my best wishes to our students during the summer break, regardless of whether they use it to travel, study, work full-time, or take up an internship. For graduates, let me once more offer my congratulations and best wishes as you pursue your next stage in life. For all other Lingnanians, have a good summer! I shall be in touch with you again at the beginning of the next academic year.
Leonard K Cheng