Message from The Vice-Chancellor & President

Dear Students, Colleagues, Alumni and Friends,

Welcome to the first day of the academic year. For our new students and faculty members, a special welcome to the University of Hong Kong.

As you find your way around the expanded campus, I hope you will share with me a sense of history in the making.

In 1912, exactly 100 years ago, HKU admitted 77 students. Today, we welcome over 7,000 newcomers for undergraduate studies from 70 countries. There are now 30,000 people on campus, undergraduate and postgraduate students, as well as academic and non-academic staff. Then there is an alumni body of 160,000.

Today we will hold our first classes on the brand new Centennial Campus. We will also welcome a double-cohort, two groups of first-year students, with the start of a new 4-year curriculum.  It will be exciting if not chaotic, as each of us tries to find our way on campus - and in the world.

As members of the HKU family, we are all standard bearers of the history and values of this university.  In its first 100 years, the university has been guided by the spirit of Freedom, Liberty and Diversity. Today, we need to reaffirm these values more than ever. The world is changing fast with many challenges. In societies around the world, including Hong Kong, the gap between the rich and poor is growing.  Even as I am writing, violence is flaring in many parts of the world. We can only take heart that civil society is growing as people increasingly demand to have a voice in public governance.

At the university, we have the opportunity to explore these issues, large and small.  Twenty months ago, we began our Centenary Celebrations with the theme of "knowledge, heritage and service." In this new historic year, let us forge ahead in the same spirit: the quest for knowledge, honouring our heritage, while serving the community with humility and compassion.

Finally, some special words to our students: enjoy life on campus. Work hard, play hard. Make new friends and reach out to people around you, especially those who are different from you. Challenge yourself to do new things and take advantage of the very rich resources that the university has put in place for you. Remember that the spirit of free enquiry and expression is at the very heart of HKU's tradition. Here we listen, we argue, and we debate fiercely. But despite the differences, we seek to find the best solutions for the good of society.

My joy is to provide a conducive environment to make sure that the faculty can excel, while students can discover new horizons.

Let this day mark a new page for us, and for HKU.

Lap-Chee Tsui
Vice-Chancellor & President

September 17, 2012