6 Jan 2020

Open Letter from Prof Rocky S. Tuan, CUHK Vice-Chancellor and President

6 Jan 2020

Dear Students, Colleagues and Alumni,

The second term of the 2019-20 academic year begins today.  It gives me great pleasure to welcome all of you back to a CUHK campus that once again springs to life in full for its members to continue their academic and intellectual pursuits. After the early termination of the first term last November, this day must have been long anticipated by all caring members of the CUHK community.  That the new term can start as scheduled should not be taken for granted, and all credits must go to those colleagues in various functional capacities who have gone many extra miles in enabling the continuation of our activities, in ensuring safe passages and environs for the returning staff and students, and most importantly, in building great rapport and radiating positive energy as we weathered the storm.

For security reasons, access to the University remains restricted and controlled for the time being.  A few locations, including the No. 2 Bridge and the Sir Philip Hadden-Cave Sports Field (grass soccer pitch), are still closed, but the campus is generally navigable and habitable.  Because a large number of school buses were damaged in November, temporary campus shuttle service has been put in place.  The University MTR Station has also partially reopened.  Some inconveniences are to be expected, particularly in the initial period of the term, and I must ask for your patience and understanding in allowing time for the campus to ease back to its former state of diversity and vibrancy.

To ensure that our campus environment is free from contamination and fit for work and residence, soil, water and air samples were taken from various locations and tested for harmful materials, including dioxins and cyanide.  All test results have been received, and I am pleased to report that the levels of the harmful chemicals tested are all negligible and do not pose danger to human health.

During these turbulent months, many kind thoughts and words and offers of help have come in from our alumni, sponsors, and friends in the wider community.  Their good counsel and encouragement have done no small parts in guiding and enabling us to carry on in these difficult times.  I am deeply grateful to them.   

Apart from infrastructural restoration and improvement, I fully acknowledge the greater challenges that lie ahead, regarding the rebuilding of confidence among our own members, our partners, and different stakeholders.  I will personally spearhead many of the initiatives to address these challenges.  The five subgroups established under the cross-functional rapid response task force, with responsibilities that include academic support, cultural inclusion, student well-being, to campus security, will function as forums for emerging policies and constructive actions.  Your views and input would be very much appreciated.  Above all, the University needs the collective wisdom, effort and action of every member of its community to tell the world what CUHK stands for, our treasured core values that have guided us over the past 57 years.  

I would like to share with you some exciting and uplifting recent news. (1) Shaw College has won “The 2019 Platinum Facilitation Impact Award” for its effort and achievement in cultivating cultural diversity and inclusion in the college community and for facilitating student development.  It is the first time that an organization in Hong Kong has received this highest award from the International Association of Facilitators (IAF).  (2) Two scholars from Faculty of Medicine, Professer Dennis Lo and Professer Rossa Chiu, have been named the “Top 20 Translational Researchers of 2018” by Nature Biotechnology.  They are the only Hong Kong scientists on the list and it is the third consecutive year for Professor Lo to receive this honour.  (3) Of the nine distinguished researchers awarded by The Croucher Foundation this year, four are from CUHK – Professer Jianfang Wang, Professer Ronald Ma, Professer Siew Chien Ng, and Professer Renjie Zhou.  (4) Professer Zhou Bolei from the Faculty of Engineering has been named one of the 20 “Innovators under 35” by the MIT Technology Review.  (5) A children’s library in a minority village in Hunan Province designed and built by Professer Peter W. Ferretto and his team of the School of Architecture has received an award at “the Oscars of Architecture” — World Architecture Festival 2019.  Together, these achievements speak volumes about the societal impact and research excellence that CUHK members are dedicated to achieve, and we are very proud of their outstanding work.

Let me conclude by saying that, in spite of the series of unfortunate, challenging events in recent months, I believe that these trials and tribulations will instead renew and reinforce our sense of community and resolve to bounce back stronger and more united. 

A warm welcome back, and I wish all of you the very best in the new year of 2020!

Yours truly,
Rocky S. Tuan
Vice-Chancellor and President