Newsletter No. 102

2 No. 102 4th February 1997 CUHK Newsletter Luck, Initiative, and Hard Work Combine to Produce A Bigger and More Sophisticated MBA Town Centre Thirteen years ago, the then Chief Secretary Sir Philip Haddon-Cave officially opened the University's new MBA Town Centre at East Ocean Centre, Tsim Sha Tsui. On 21st February 1997 , the Financial Secretary the Hon. Donald Tsang will officiate at the opening ceremony of the recently acquired extension to the Town Centre, with both the new and old premises integrated and completely renovated. The Need for Expansion and Renovation There was a crying need for additional space in recent years, to decently accommodate all the students for the Three-Year Part-Time and the Executive MBA Programmes at the Town Centre, particularly on Friday evenings when there are classes for both simultaneously. And, save for minor renovations to one classroom, nothing in the Town Centre had been changed ever since the University procured the premises in 1982. When Prof. Japhet Law took over as the director of the MBA Programmes in September 1995, he immediately realized that something major would have to be done to make it into what people would expect of the best business school in Hong Kong. He surveyed many potential venues that could house the programmes, both in Central and in Kowloon, but somehow never considered them seriously. He laughingly attributes this to his 'Chinese' thinking: since the Town Centre was an auspicious venue wherein the programmes were doing very well, it would be unwise to give up goodfung shui. The Golden Oppo r t un i ty to Buy Then, as chance would have it, in April 1996 Prof. Law learnt that their next-door neighbour at the Town Centre wanted to sell the property. As he puts it, 'I was lucky enough to hear about it.' This seemed to be the ideal opportunity — to the 3,819 sq. ft. Room 308 of the East Ocean Centre could be added the adjacent 3,580 sq. ft. Room307. And yet, things were not quite so simple, nor the timing ideal. Classes in the existing premises were to continue till the end of June, and the next term was to start in late August. Was there time enough to obtain the approval of the University, get the resources together, conclude the deal, have the design ready, and engage a suitable contractor? Could the project be initiated and completed in just four months? It seemed an impossible task, and yet, if they missed this rare opportunity, it would probably be years before expansion could be considered again. 'It was an extremely difficult decision to take,' says Prof. Law. What added to the pressure was the fact that, just into his job, Prof. Law also had to contend with the 30th anniversary celebrations of the Programmes in 1996-97. A Gargantuan Mission The University administration and the MBA Advisory Boards were extremely supportive, and Prof. Law, having his mind set on wanting to update the facilities, decided to go ahead with the project. 'If I see something right, I want to do it, and don't mind working 25 hours a day,' he says. The deal was struck in the beginning of May, and in the months that followed, everything else took a back seat — including a long-planned family holiday. In fact, as Prof. Law recalls, 1996 was the first vacation-less summer for him since he came of age. He hasn't been able to take any time off for 15 months. A 'Colourful' Enterprise Much time and thought have been devoted to the planning for the now new-looking Town Centre. For instance, to generate an atmosphere that is more refreshing and convivial than most of the offices the students have just left behind, the four large classrooms have been done up in different colours. One is light grey, another pastel orange, the third pastel green, and the fourth white. The shapes and layout differ too, to add to their individuality, optimize space, and cater to a specific kind of class. The grey room has all tables on rollers, offering flexibility to arrange the class as need be, in different groups if group-work is required or in a traditional lecture style. The orange room is designed along the archetypal lecture room, to accommodate a larger number of students. 'If we had not been constrained by space, we probably wouldn't have had one like this,' says Prof. Law. The green room has horse-shoe shaped seating, to enable maximum communication and eye- contact. The white room is semi-circular in shape and more intimate. These classrooms are built to meet the special needs of different classes. The 'grey room' with tables on rollers Feeling of space optimized - an open-looking reception with a glass-topped table through which brochures can be seen One of the six 'break out' rooms