The year 2013, the golden jubilee of The Chinese University of Hong Kong, is awaited by everyone in the University with bated breath.
Celebration is very much in the air, and all in the CUHK family, be they teachers, students and alumni, are actively engaged in preparation for the events and activities that are to come.
Looking back at the University’s development over the past five decades, I cannot help casting my mind back, to those days when I was a mere toddler. It was the time when a range of barren hillocks, by the side of the railway track on which diesel trains ran and along the coast of the Tolo Harbour, was chosen as the seat of an academic institution burdened with an onerous historical and cultural mission. On the 17th day of October, 1963, the Chinese University came into being by legislation, and construction for the new campus commenced, at its present location in Shatin, building itself upon the practical and modest simplicity that informed the structure and milieu of its three foundation Colleges. And it has been fifty years since.
By the standard of ancient European establishments, fifty years are only of momentary significance. However, a university which has grown to maturity through the many trials and tribulations of half a century, is a marvel that can justify a lot of pride. At its inception the University had three Colleges, 1,395 students, and about a hundred academics. Vested with the mission to combine the tradition with modernity, and to bring together China and the West, it has strived and persevered amidst considerable hardships, plodding along in heavy steps. Nowadays there are nine Colleges and eight Faculties, and a student population over twenty thousand strong including the postgraduates, served by over six thousand academics, administrators and ancillary service personnel. It is an academic community of great vigour and enormous vitality, second to none in Hong Kong, and a major education hub in Asia.
In the year of commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the University’s founding, it is our bounden duty to respectfully review the achievements of the academics who have gone before us, and to perpetuate the practice of the valuable traditions they have established. At the same time our vision should be focused on the future, as we plan the development of the University with due regard for the needs and requirements of the time. Fresh energy has to be injected into our enterprise, so that we may boldly face the challenges posed by globalization. The activities being conceived by the 50th Anniversary Celebration Organizing Committee are all oriented towards these objectives.
Our year-long programme of activities will take place throughout 2013, which will allow us the opportunity to share, in gratitude and gladness, our achievements with the community at large. It will also be an occasion for the Chinese University to reiterate its core values and its mission, and to bring to the community’s full view, the University’s humanistic spirit which is its guiding light since the earliest days, its unique collegiate system, and its practical and functional General Education programmes. A university may boast of magnificent edifices, state-of-the-art facilities and cutting edge research, yet it will remain not much more than a group of soulless buildings, and enjoy a reputation devoid of meaning, if it does not encourage the deep and careful probe into the nature of matters, the research and dissemination of knowledge, the selfless defence of truth, and a genuine care and concern for the public good. We shall show to the general public what superior minds our campus has nurtured, and what ingenious results they have wrought through years of intensive intellectual endeavours. Their achievements have expanded the frontiers of learning and research in many directions. Furthermore, many of our teachers and students, in successive generations, have left their distinguished and indelible marks on regional, national and even international history. It is our intention, and our resolve, to demonstrate how, in a global village where no man is an island entire of himself, the teachers and students of CUHK will shoulder their responsibilities as citizens of the world when the call of benevolent humanism beckons. We will show to the world how the CUHK community has extended the scope of its service, and how the application of the results of its research has gone way beyond the campus to the surrounding regions, the nation, and the rest of the world, for the benefit of the earth and all mankind.
I am deeply indebted to all who are involved in the fiftieth anniversary celebrations, especially Mr Charles Y. W. Leung, Chairman of the 50th Anniversary Celebration Organizing Committee, Professor Michael Hui, who heads the co-ordinating and working committee, and Dr Joseph Y. W. Pang, who chairs the fund-raising committee for the celebration activities. I sincerely call upon all members of the CUHK family to take an active part in the celebration activities. Over the past fifty years a very substantial and impressive presence of our graduates has been maintained in the community at large, and the number of our graduates will exceed one hundred and forty thousand very soon. I am convinced that, wherever they are and whatever their station in life, they are all committed to doing their best, and that, at the same time, the alma mater and her development always have a fond place in their hearts. I would also like to extend a warm welcome to all alumni, whether residing in Hong Kong or elsewhere, to re-visit the campus in the next year, for a walk down memory lane, or to contemplate what the distant horizon holds in store. Let us join our hearts and minds to celebrate the golden jubilee, in a manner that is truly meaningful to us, and worthy of our memory.
Joseph J Y Sung