THE Hongkong University of Science and Technology will now be in a better position to sponsor public lectures, provide fellowships to distinguished professors and supplement research expenses, thanks to a generous donation of $7.5 million from Citibank. Not only will the HKUST students benefit, but also the public who can enjoy the lectures to be organised subsequently, as well as the business community of Hongkong. HKUST vice-chancellor, Professor Woo Chia-wei, said the money would be used to set up the Citibank Endowment Fund. He said the donation was significant. ''It is a shot in the arm,'' he quipped, ''a boost for the morale of the university's School of Business and Management. ''But it also indicates the interest of MNCs [multinational corporations] ,'' Professor Woo said. With the money, the school's research quality could be greatly enhanced, he said. The fund, to be used over a period of five years, will help to support three key aspects of the school's activities. These include inviting distinguished speakers to lecture on important topics of general concern. The inaugural lecture, scheduled for September, will be given by the current Nobel Laureate for Economics, Professor Gary Becker. The fund will also enhance salaries offered to distinguished professors to join the HKUST as fellows. In addition, the fund will supplement existing grants to cover essential research expenses of the faculty. These cover costs of conducting case studies, travelling to research locations and for conferences, and producing business and management-related publications. In appreciation of Citibank's donation, the university has named its only 400-seat lecture theatre after the bank. Professor Woo said the lecture theatre will be a venue for student activities, public seminars, academic conferences and regional and international meetings. After presenting the cheque to HKUST, the Country Corporate Officer for Citibank Hongkong, Mr Anthony Leung, said: ''Education remains our number one contribution priority globally. It is the foundation for any healthy community. ''The fund with HKUST fits in well with our efforts to invest in human capital for the continued development of Hongkong, '' he said. Mr Leung also said it was important for the academic staff and members of the business community to constantly work together for the territory's economic wellbeing.