HKUST’s 24th Congregation

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Building on 25 years of Excellence: HKUST Celebrates 24th Congregation

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 November, 2016, 10:01am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 November, 2016, 10:01am

In early 90s, a group of visionary leaders took the bold steps to create a new kind of university in HK that is more research focused, and with emphasis on science, technology, engineering, management and business studies.  Twenty-five years on, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) has grown into a university with international standing and recognition.  In celebration of its silver jubilee, a variety of programs were organized to exemplify HKUST’s mission in advancing learning and knowledge and giving back to the society.  The activities include talk series delivered by Nobel laureates, prominent scholars, scientists and business leaders, hosting international competitions like the International Mathematical Olympiad and Asian Physics Olympiad, as well as a gala banquet, overseas alumni events, and a campaign that prompts students to give back to the society by serving at least 25 hours of community work.

Today, HKUST will see 4,600 bright, young minds embark on a new journey, into a world filled with opportunities, excitement and important choices to make. On the 24th congregation ceremony, HKUST President Prof Tony F Chan exhorted graduates on the attitude and thinking they should adopt when they are stuck at a crossroads.  “Hong Kong today faces many issues, extreme ideologies included, which threaten to change our society profoundly and, I believe, we would be doing our future generations a great disservice if we do not form our opinion and response carefully and critically,” Prof Chan said.  “As a select member of society and a university graduate who has received so much education, you should have acquired a critical mind and know not to follow blindly.”

No one really expected it back then that HKUST would make a name in just 25 years, but the efforts and dedication of the pioneers and the many who pursued this dream have made it happen.  In Hong Kong, HKUST was rated by the public as the best local university for the first time in a poll conducted by - a long standing survey conducted on local universities in Hong Kong.  Globally, the University was ranked by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) and Times Higher Education (THE) in the top 50 in their world university rankings.   The University was also ranked No. 1 in Greater China and No. 2 in the world in QS’s 2016 Top 50 under 50.  The School of Business and Management’s flagship Kellogg-HKUST EMBA program, meanwhile, was ranked No. 1 again this year in the highly-regarded Financial Times Global EMBA Rankings – the seventh time it took the top spot. On the research front, HKUST topped its Hong Kong peers in Nature Index 2016 – a table by authoritative journal Nature Communications on the counts of high-quality research output among the top 500 research institutions worldwide, HKUST was also the only Hong Kong university that entered the world’s top 100 fastest-rising institutions in Nature Index 2016 Rising Stars, it was ranked 39th in terms of growth in the number of high quality research outputs during the four years to 2015. 

HKUST is most proud to see global recognition of not just the University, but also its graduates.  The latest Global Employability University Survey (GEUS) has put HKUST graduates one place higher than last year to being the 13th most popular employees worldwide, amongst employers’ other top choices such as graduates from Harvard University, University of Oxford and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Rankings of our graduates in this survey have continued to rise over the past four years, constantly within the world’s top 20, No. 1 in Greater China and No. 2 in Asia.

Released on the same day as our 24th congregation ceremony, Prof Chan said the GEUS result is a testament to the success of HKUST’s holistic education model and its multi-cultural and inter-disciplinary environment, which have equipped the students with global vision, critical thinking and other soft skills which made them desirable employees.  Speaking to the fresh graduates, Prof Chan asked the students to always have faith in themselves.  “Your road ahead will be full of challenges,” he said.  “Always have confidence in your capabilities, and tackle the challenges head-on. Be prepared to make a positive difference in this world. Go where there is no path, and leave a trail.”

The 25th anniversary of HKUST is coming to a close, but the University’s dedication to academic and research excellence lives on. A strategic blueprint which outlines the directions and development plan for HKUST over the next five years has been set, HKUST will seek to be a university of choice for talents and the best global minds to lead the world’s education and research, and setting the trends for future. It will continue to be a powerhouse for innovation and entrepreneurship. As a place where different ideas collide freely, HKUST will be the champion to build a diverse yet inclusive community. In response to arising circumstances and needs, it will also seek to be the exemplar of best-in-class standards, practices and operations.

HKUST embraces the notion that talent is the key to a university's success, – first-class people bring first-class people” is the motto of our Founding President Prof Chia-wei Woo.  Twenty-five years on, the tradition lives on and flourishes.  HKUST’s home-grown renowned neuroscientist Prof Nancy Ip, who devoted her career to solving the underlying mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and earlier discovered a protein that reverses memory loss in mice, was named one of the top 10 scientists in China by Nature this year – the only one on the list from HK.  Prof Tang Benzhong’s discovery of a luminescent material that could apply to dozens of high-tech applications including biomedical sensors, chemical probes and forensic investigation, was featured in the New York Times.  Meanwhile, Prof Gyu Boong Jo, Prof Law Kam Tuen and Prof Tom Cheung, our three young faculty members from the Department of Physics and Division of Life Science were honored the prestigious Croucher Innovation Awards over the past two years for their achievements in scientific research. 

To bring HKUST to new heights, a number of high-caliber scholars and administrators have joined the senior management team.   Prof Nancy Ip has become the new Vice-President for Research and Graduate Studies on November 1 following a rigorous global search.  Leading physicist Prof  Andrew Cohen will become the new director of HKUST Jockey Club Institute for Advanced Study (IAS), when current director Prof Henry Tye stepped down early next year.  Other new appointments includes the appointment of Prof Tam Kar Yan as the new Dean of the School of Business and Management, Prof Wang Yang as Dean of Science, Prof Tim Cheng as Dean of Engineering, Prof Wu Xun as Director of Institute of Public Policy and Dr Robert Wessling as the new Dean of Students.  

“After 25 years of development, HKUST has matured into a world-class university and we are ready to advance to the next level to compete with the best of the best globally. Holding the “1-HKUST” spirit dear, the entire HKUST family will work together as an integrated and holistic team to continuously strive for excellence in all our research areas, train future innovators and entrepreneurs who are not only brilliant academics but also ethically responsible leaders and to forge new frontiers and contribute to the betterment of society. Going forward, we aspire to reach new heights – the best of HKUST is yet to come.” Prof Chan concluded.