Newsletter No. 116

2 No. 116 19th November 1997 CUHK Newsletter ED Of f icial Addresses Local Education in College Talk O n 15th October, Mr. Kwan Ting- fai, deputy director of the Hong Kong Education Department, spoke on the development of quality education in Hong Kong in a speech entitled 'Innovative Teaching Methods and Management: Promote Excellence in Hong Kong's Education' during the Chung Chi College Life Luncheon Gathering. Mr. Kwan expounded the government's education policy to provide quality education, ensure the full development of individual potential, and equip young people for future challenges, and pointed out that the University Grants Committee will work with tertiary institutions to identify their respective strengths for further development into areas of excellence. He also stressed the importance of competence in information technology and in language, for teachers and students alike. The Opening o f Weiyuan LakeMarks Chung Chi's 46th Birthday (From right) Prof. Rance P.L Lee, head of Chung Chi College; Prof. Stella So, chairperson of the College Staff Club; Prof. Arthur Li, vice chancellor; Mr. George Hung, chairman of the College Board of Trustees; and Mr. Ma Yue Kit, chairman of the College Student Union, on the new Qu bridge over Weiyuan Lake The official re-opening ofthe Lily Pond on the Chung Chi campus on the afternoon of 31st October was one of the highlights ofthe College's 46th anniversary celebrations. Long a well-known picturesque spot in the University, the pond and its surroundings recently underwent a facelift and has now been renamed Weiyuan Lake. Officiating at the reopening ceremony was vice- chancellor of the University, Prof. Arthur K.C. Li. Other celebration activities held on the same day included a thanksgiving service held in the college chapel, with Mr. Andrew So, the Ombudsman, as the guest speaker. He gave a clear description of the history and future of the ombudsman system, and the duties vested in the ombudsman. During the service, Mr. George H.C. Hung, chairman of the college Board of Trustees, presented major scholarships and other awards to students in recognition oftheir academic and extracurricular achievements. At the end of the service, Mr. Clarence Chang, president of the Chung Chi College Alumni Association, presented a souvenir to the college. In the afternoon, the College Student Union organized a round-the- campus run and a singing contest. The traditional Feast for Thousands was held in the evening in the Lingnan Stadium. New Director of the Environmental Science Programme In the 1997-98 academic year, several academics assume department headship or programme directorship for the first time. They include Prof. Jimmy Yu (environmental science programme) and Prof. Jack C. Y. Cheng (orthopaedics and traumatology). The CUHK Newsletter spoke to themabout their plans and vision, and the following is Prof. Yu's interview. Prof. Cheng's views will be presented in December. Interviews of three other new department heads were conducted in Chinese, and have already been carried on the Chinese pages of the newsletter. More Ne two r k i ng & Publicity Required New director of the Environmental Science Programme, Prof. Jimmy Yu believes that the programme needs greater exposure to the public. To this end, he and other staff members of the programme are organizing a consultative committee which draws its members from senior officials of the government's Environmental Protection Department, managers of consultancy firms, and academics from the world over who are experienced in research and teaching related to the environment. 'We hope the committee will help us build a network to facilitate academic exchange and to open up more career opportunities for our graduates,' he said. The committee will have its first meeting, Prof. Yu hopes, at the end of the year. A Multidisciplinary Programme Established in 1994-95, the programme has been fairing well in its three years of existence. It takes in approximately 30 students each year, and so far, most graduates have found jobs related directly or indirectly to environmental science, while others have taken up postgraduate studies. Part of the credit goes to the programme's solid curriculum and dedicated teachers. Its curriculum, which includes studies in environmental chemistry, environmental biology, conservation, biochemical toxicology, and environmental impact assessment, is taught mainly by six teachers from the departments of biochemistry, biology, and chemistry. Prof. Yu, for example, belongs also to the Department of Chemistry. The core courses are complemented by courses on other subjects including ecology, geography, and statistics, taught by teachers from the relevant departments. 'We hope to give students a strong foundation to enable them to develop fully and comprehensively. Environmental science is a practical subject. We need to ensure that the curriculum is synchronous with society's needs and changes. That's why we constantly review our curriculum,' said Prof. Yu. To encourage specialized research in environmental science, Prof. Yu is painstakingly paving the way for the launch of a Ph.D. programme in 1998- 99. Pros and Cons of Being Young Virtually all academic units and departments of Hong Kong's tertiary institutions are faced with two problems: space and resources. Being a young and expanding programme, the Environmental Science Programme probably feels the effect of these universal problems even more acutely. 'Research laboratory space is extremely tight at present,' said Prof. Yu, 'and it will worsen as we expand the postgraduate programme.' To build up its technological capacity, the programme has procured some advanced equipment over the past few years. Additional resources, however, are crucial to the maintenance of the equipment. As the programme is organized by the departments of biochemistry, biology, and chemistry, its funds are also allocated via the three departments, which means it enjoys little financial independence. Being young, however, has its merits. Prof. Yu pointed out, 'We're a young programme taught by relatively young staff members. We are open- minded and highly adaptable, hence there should be few in the way of obstacles when changes need to be introduced. And because we're young and few in number, we get along very smoothly.' New Director Ready to Take Up the Challenge Prof. Yu joined the University in August 1995. He first became involved with the Environmental Science Programme in 1993 when he spent his sabbatical at the University. He 'feels lucky' to belong to both the Department of Chemistry and the Environmental Science Programme as he has received 'strongsupport in pursuing excellence in research and teaching from both.' Prof. Yu's research interests lie in environmental monitoring and waste treatment, as well as treatment technology. Although the duties of programme director will leave him less time for research, Prof. Yu is prepared for it. 'I knew when I agreed to take on the job what it entails. My research is on the right track, so I can delegate part of my work to my research assistants. I don't know yet whether I'll find the work load heavy. I just hope it will turn out to be a rewarding experience in the end,' concluded Prof. Yu placidly. Piera Chen