Letter to Lingnanians
13 September 2021
Welcome to the 2021/22 academic year!
It was my pleasure to join members of senior management to greet our students, new and returning, on campus on the first day of this semester. In the past two weeks, I was so pleased to see signs of vibrancy as I strolled around our beautiful campus. Students to whom I spoke, including those who went through the compulsory quarantine, are all settled in well and excited about the new semester.
The Covid-19 pandemic has altered the mode of teaching and taught us that face-to-face interaction is so important to education, especially the liberal arts education that Lingnan takes pride in. With the resumption of face-to-face teaching and learning this semester, I very much hope to see that our students immerse in Lingnan’s distinct education characterised by our highly interactive classes, rich experiential learning and exchange programmes, interesting art and cultural activities, dynamic residential life, and above all the care and support of our teachers and staff.
Looking back at the challenges and the uncertainties brought by the pandemic since early 2020, we approach this semester with caution, optimism, humility and a caring attitude. Caution is a must because Covid-19 continues to be a personal hazard and public health threat. Our success as a community in the past year, however, gives me confidence that the community will overcome whatever adversities that may come our way. At the same time, it is important for us to remain humble as we face the continuing impact of the pandemic and any other emerging threats. Humility and a caring attitude help to foster trust and cooperation within the University community and the wider society, which in turn will bring new possibilities. From a global macro perspective, the pandemic has not only shown the pressing need for global cooperation in research and innovation but also pointed to the importance of promoting wellbeing, diversity and sustainability.
For those who are new to the University, you may be interested in knowing that the University had a number of very good news in the past several months, and I would like to share a few of them with you. First, the University’s academic staff performed very well in the latest Research Assessment Exercise 2020 with an impressive number of their research outputs and research impact cases attaining 4-star (“world leading”) and 3-star (“internationally excellent”) ratings. Second, a significant number of our faculty’s research projects were funded by the General Research Fund and the Early Career Scheme with very high success rates in some disciplines. Third, our scholars have received various Research Grants Council fellowship awards, including Professor Emilie Yeh, our Dean of Arts, who was awarded the Humanities and Social Sciences Prestigious Fellowship and Prof Darrell Rowbottom of the Department of Philosophy who was awarded the 2021/22 Senior Research Fellowship (for five years). Fourth, the University did well in bidding for University Grants Committee funded student numbers for the 2022-25 triennium. Fifth, among different scholarship recipients, two of our undergraduate students received the HSBC Greater Bay Area (Hong Kong) Scholarship for their hard work and career ambitions in the Greater Bay Area. In this example our students with a glocal mindset look beyond Hong Kong to explore career opportunities that suit their interest and ability, and I applaud them for setting an example for others.
The above good news makes me optimistic about the University’s future development.
In the next few months, we shall continue our work on formulating the Strategic Plan 2022-28 (SP), which was started in April this year and is scheduled to be completed within the first quarter of next year. Once the consultation process is completed and the draft SP is approved by the University Council, we will have a clear roadmap for the University’s future development and the long-term success of our students, faculty and staff. Given the importance of this planning document, I would like to encourage you to give your comments and suggestions when the draft SP is rolled out for consultation.
As part of the SP, the University will embark on a new multi-year branding campaign. This work, to be overseen by a Task Force for Branding led by the Vice-President, include reviewing and developing the University’s brand positioning statement and associated branding strategies with an aim to best communicate the University’s distinctiveness effectively to all stakeholders and the public, including potential students in Hong Kong, on the Mainland and overseas. Again, I would like to encourage you to give your comments and suggestions on the brand taglines and positioning statements proposed by the Task Force.
Lingnan’s strong research capability in the areas of culture and heritage, smart ageing, environmental sustainability and humanitarian technology as well as our commitment to promoting Chinese culture and international cultural exchanges have been affirmed by the Chief Executive of the HKSAR during her visit to the University in July. I am confident that our students, faculty and staff will continue to play an important role in tackling global and local challenges and, as encouraged by the Chief Executive, seize opportunities of the Greater Bay Area to contribute to the development of Hong Kong and beyond.
With the Mid-Autumn Festival just about a week away, I am wishing you all good health, happiness, and a very fruitful academic year!
Leonard K Cheng