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Letter to Lingnanians

02 September 2016

Leonard K Cheng

Leonard K Cheng

Dear Lingnanians,

At the beginning of a new academic year, let me extend my warmest welcome to all new and continuing students. For returning students and staff, welcome back to campus and hope you all had an enjoyable and relaxing summer vacation.  I wish all of our students and staff members a happy and fruitful year ahead.

At the New Student Orientation last week, I shared the Core Values of the University including the “Lingnan Spirit” with all the freshmen, encouraging them to make good use of our collegial community of learning and discovery to achieve all-round growth and to always have empathy and compassion, and the passion to serve and build a better world.

During the summer, I visited some Lingnan alumni in Toronto, including Dr Lee Sui-ming, a Guangzhou-era alumnus and former Registrar of Lingnan College, as well as Mr Laurence Lai, President of Lingnan Alumni Association of Toronto. They and several other key members of the association treated me to a welcome dinner with the biggest Atlantic lobster I had ever seen in my life, and we took a picture of it before it was turned into three delicious dishes. The annual BBQ event to which I was invited was attended by many Lingnan alumni, who impressed me deeply with their loyalty towards their alma mater and closeness as a community in their adopted country. I was pleased to see strong and enthusiastic support for our university not only from within our campus but also from thousands of miles across the ocean.

Cooperation and perseverance as the keys to success

Amid my tight travelling schedule during the summer, I spent some time watching the Rio Olympics. My heart ached when Sarah Lee fell from her bike. I shared the joy when China took down Serbia for volleyball gold. While Olympic athletes have their own unique strengths that make them great, there are two characteristics they all share-perseverance and cooperative spirit. These traits, I believe, are what we as individuals and an institution can learn.

The Olympic games show that perseverance is what we need to overcome adversity and achieve the best in life. A good example is Sarah Lee who pulled herself together to compete at the quarter-finals despite immense pain at her wounds after the keirin crash. Though she failed to progress to semi-finals, Sarah’s perseverance is definitely something we all should learn.

On the path of learning, we cannot expect to sail smoothly without a hitch. That is why we often emphasise that we are a collegial community of learning and discovery, in which faculty and students support mutually in the pursuit of knowledge. For our students, university is a place to learn, to try, to explore and to transform.  You should not be afraid of failure or making mistakes, which is a great way to learn though something that many people fail to realise.  

Whether competing on the field as a team, or alone on the running track, no athlete is competing single-handedly. All participants are backed by a wide range of supporters-from teammates, coaches, ancillary staff to people of their country. When almost no one believed China’s Women Volleyball Team could win the gold, they captured the title thanks to not only coach Lang Ping’s strategic use of young players, but also the team’s unbeatable spirit and superb solidarity.

Here at Lingnan, we share the same ethos. Over the years, it was our combined efforts and united spirit that guided us through many challenges.  Just to name a few, reforming the Core Curriculum, improving campus facilities, expanding our global networks, etc.

As a comparatively small university, we have been up against the changing global trends and increasing competition in higher education. These challenges include, among others, competing with emerging liberal arts institutions in Asia with strong brands and abundant resources, maintaining a good balance between teaching and research, and walking an uphill road in our fund-raising cause.

Notwithstanding these and other challenges, we have carefully examined our strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities in the process of developing the new Strategic Plan 2016-2022, and formulated plans to guide us through the next two triennia with a view to realising our vision and mission. I am sure, with the collective efforts of the Lingnan community, Lingnan will be able to achieve our goals and soar to new heights in the coming years.

Celebrating 50th anniversary of Lingnan University in 2017/18

In about a year Lingnan University will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of its re-establishment in Hong Kong cum 130th anniversary of its founding in Guangzhou. As we stride forward into our Golden Jubilee, we will need the collaboration of all members of the Lingnan community to roll out the year-long anniversary events beginning in the last quarter of 2017. An organising committee for the anniversary celebrations, led by the Vice-President Prof Joshua Mok, will spring to action very soon.  I call on the support of the entire University community to reveal the best of Lingnan through active participation and involvement.

As the saying goes, “A family doesn’t need to be perfect; it just needs to be united.” May we all live up to the Lingnan spirit of passion, loyalty and perseverance as we work together for a better future.

With best wishes,
Leonard K Cheng