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Letter to Lingnanians

05 September 2017

Leonard K Cheng

Leonard K Cheng

Dear Lingnanians,

After the long summer break, I am excited to see that the Lingnan campus is again filled with the energetic faces of new and old students as well as staff members.  At the beginning of a new academic year, I would like to share with you two encouraging achievements of the University.

World ranking on the rise continuously

In the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings 2018 released in early June, Lingnan University has been ranked in the range of 551 to 600, up from the range of 601 to 650 in 2017.  The QS report further pointed out that Lingnan “performed among the top 57% in the QS World University Rankings”, and “considering there are approximately 26,000 universities globally, this makes Lingnan University one of the top 2.1% universities in the world.”

Given Lingnan’s position as a small liberal arts university, these achievements are in fact impressive.  Apart from the overall ranking, we performed particularly well in the aspect of international faculty with a score of 99.9 (the full score is 100) and are ranked 52nd worldwide, up by 24 places compared with last year.  Our academic reputation, in the top 400 globally, rose by 56 places.

Research performance recognised in funding exercise

Also in June, the Research Grants Council announced the application results of its General Research Fund (GRF), Early Career Scheme (ECS) and Humanities and Social Sciences Prestigious Fellowship Scheme (HSSPFS) in 2017/18.  Funding support for 16 GRF and 6 ECS projects at a total amount of about HK$7.4 million was secured, which is more than double in terms of the number of successful projects and represents a 61% increase in funds compared with last year. These outstanding results are a recognition of Lingnan’s strong research performance.

We have done exceptionally well in certain subjects in GRF.  For instances, in the Panel of Humanities and Social Sciences we ranked second among the eight UGC-funded universities with a success rate of 31.4%, and in the subject discipline of Humanities and Arts under the Panel, we ranked top with a success rate of 36.8%.  For ECS, we topped the chart with a success rate of 66.7%, and came first under the Panel of Humanities and Social Sciences with a success rate of 83.3%.  In the subject discipline of Humanities and Arts under the Panel, all five proposals were approved for funding.

Mock exercise to prepare for RAE

All these are testimonies of our concerted efforts in raising Lingnan’s academic profile and strengthening our ties and collaborations locally and internationally over the past years.  Nevertheless, it is important for us to keep up our good work in order to ensure continuous success.  To prepare for the next Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) to be conducted by the University Grants Committee in 2020, a mock RAE has commenced recently.

Result of the RAE is a crucial indicator of the university’s research performance and has profound implications for our funding and development.  The mock RAE exercise is a drill which will provide us with insights about our research strengths and areas which require improvement.  I am confident that colleagues will continue to work closely together to ensure our success in the next RAE exercise.

Chair Professor Appointment

The University has succeeded in recruiting Prof Huang Yunte, currently with the University of California-Santa Barbara, to join our English Department from August 2018 as Tong Tin Sun Chair Professor of English.  He will play an important role as the department embarks on its exciting development in the next several years.

The appointment of Prof Huang will further strengthen the University’s academic profile through his scholarship, teaching, service, and wider engagement with the local and international communities.

Connecting with Lingnanians Outside Hong Kong

This summer, while taking a break in the San Francisco Bay area, I took the opportunity to meet with Lingnan alumni, family members and supporters who reside there. Thanks to the kind arrangement of the President of the San Francisco Lingnan Alumni Association, Mr Jim Poon, I had the pleasure of meeting with about 20 Lingnanians, including very senior alumni who graduated in the 1940s during the Guangzhou era. In addition to their warm hospitality and keen interest and care for our university, the meeting place was also memorable: a well-known Cantonese seafood restaurant in San Francisco’s Chinatown, the “R&G Lounge”, where R&G actually stands for Lingnan University’s “red and grey” colors.  I have learned that the restaurant (whose Chinese name is “Lingnan Xiaoguan”) was started by a Lingnanian.  As in the case of my visit to Toronto’s alumni last year, I was deeply moved by their profound loyalty to their alma mater (be it the University, or middle school, or the primary school) and their inclusive notion of what makes a Lingnanian.

With the kind arrangement of the immediate former President of the Lingnan University Alumni Association (Hong Kong) Mr Henry Sam, I visited Lingnan Middle School in Macau in mid-August, being accompanied by him and two other senior alumni from the Stubbs Road era.  The visit and a dinner meeting with distinguished Lingnanians in Macau made me appreciate once more the inclusiveness of the Lingnan family, the family members’ profound loyalty, and the unifying Lingnan Spirit that is now officially one of our University’s four Core Values.

Anniversary Celebration Launch Ceremony

The start of this academic year also marks the beginning of the 50th Anniversary celebration of Lingnan’s re-establishment in Hong Kong.  I sincerely invite you to join the celebration’s Launch Ceremony on 19 September when Lingnanians and the University’s friends gather to share the joy.  Look forward to seeing you there!


Leonard K Cheng