100 years on, HKU to relive inauguration

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 March, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 March, 2010, 12:00am

The University of Hong Kong will tomorrow reprise the inauguration ceremony at which the first stone was laid for its Pok Fu Lam campus a century ago. The event forms part of its centenary celebrations.

Tomorrow's foundation stone-laying ceremony will launch the construction of its centennial campus, which is scheduled to be completed in 2012. The ceremony will be held 100 years to the day since former governor Sir Frederick Lugard laid the first stone of the main building, which stands as the landmark structure of the university to this day.

A ceremony at which Sir Hormusjee Mody, the Indian businessman who donated HK$150,000 towards the construction of the university, presented a gilt jade-encrusted trowel to officiating guest Sir Frederick will be reprised tomorrow.

Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen will take the place of Lugard. He will be presented with a replica of the trowel, which is inscribed with details of the foundation stone-laying ceremony, by Professor Christopher Mody from the University of Calgary in Canada, who is the great-grandson of Sir Hormusjee. Mody was tracked down by the university vice-chancellor, Professor Tsui Lap-chee, who invited him in early January to attend the ceremony. Tsui was a colleague of Mody's when Tsui was engaged in research in genetics in the University of Toronto in 2002.

The original trowel was returned to the university in the 1940s after Sir Frederick died in Britain and is now stored in the university's museum. Local jewellery designer Cecile Tu Ching-na helped design the replica.

The handle of the replica trowel is made in the shape of the Pok Fu Lam campus, with the jade decorations symbolising the three new buildings of the centennial campus.

Living in Sai Wan, Tu said her observation of the evolvement of the campus skyline gave her inspiration for the design. 'Although I am not an alumni of the university, my younger sister and two uncles studied there,' she said. 'I always had great admiration for the university. I felt honoured to be able to design the trowel for the ceremony.'