Newsletter No. 207

2 No. 207 19th September 2002 CUHK Newsletter Chung Chi Summer Tr ip to France Twenty students emersed themselves in French culture for 21 days from 13th July under the Study Trip: Exploration of French Society programme organized by Chung Chi College. During their stay in France, of wh i ch 15 days were spent in Bordeaux and six in Paris, the students attended a French course at the Alliance Fran ç aise and paid visits to the Bordeaux Fire Station, the Logistics Platform of Medicins Sans Frontiers, the Senate, the National Assembly, UNESCO, Croix Rouge Fran ç aise, and museums. CX Scholarship Benefits Eight This Year E i ght C U HK students have been sponsored by Cathay Pacific Airways under the Cathay Pac i f ic T r avel Scholarship this year to study in the US, Canada, Korea, and Taiwan. The students w i l l be studying at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California in the US, the University of Toronto in Canada, Korea University, and Taiwan University. Cathay Pacific Airways has been supporting CUHK students to participate in student exchange programmes under the Cathay Pacific Travel Scholarship since 1977. The University has been providing its students w i t h s t udy ab r oad opportunities through its many student exchange programmes. Starting out with only a handful of students going on exchange each year, the programmes today enable approximately 250 students to gain international experience each year at over 80s universities in 12 countries. When Home b o y Becomes Head United's New College Head Speaks from the Heart P rof. Fung Kwok-pui is bubbling with enthusiasm about being the eighth Head of United College. He is also overflowing with creative ideas for the college and its members, and understandably so as he is the first United 'old boy' to take the reins of headship. Currently professor in the Department of Biochemistry, Prof. Fung has remained close to the college after graduating as a chemistry major of the college almost three decades ago. He was among the first batch of students to live in Adam Schall Residence back in 1972. He served as the college's Dean of Students from 1982 to 1985. The following year, he became vice- president of the United College Alumni Association, to which he now still serves as councillor. At The Chinese University, 'student orientated teaching' has historically been the colleges' responsibility while 'subject orientated teaching' belongs more to the University's domain. To keep pace with changes in the social and economic environment, United College has been steering a consistently innovative course in realizing its founding educational ideals andmeeting the scholastic and professional needs of the new generation. Prof. Fung said, 'Back in the 1980s, with only two universities in Hong Kong, students had a greater sense of belonging to the universities and a greater sense of mission. Now with six more universities, students have adiluted sense of social responsibility. Given too the state of the economy, students nowadays are more practical. Hence while we'd encourage them to be more socially responsible, we'd also try to help them if they need to learn skills that would help them with their jobs.' Months before 1 st August 2002 when Prof. Fung formally became head of United College, he sought counsel from the college's alumni and the Board of Trustees on their expectations of the future head. 'I specifically invited their views on the college's future development, reflected to them the students' career concerns and secured their commitment to helping our students progress,' said Prof. Fung. These consultations were extremely fruitful in bringing about new ideas worthy of further exploration. Among them is the possible expansion of the college's mentorship programme to invite trustees to serve as mentors and the provision of college-based job training and placement opportunities in mainland China and overseas for students. Through the Budding Scholars Exchange Programme, the college currently organizes student exchange with universities in mainland China, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, Korea, and the US. United College w i ll build on the programme's successful experiences and continue to expand its student exchange activities in terms of scope, content and duration, according to Prof. Fung. There are also plans to set up more scholarships based on performance in sports, student service and even art, on top of academic merit. The number and nature of new scholarships will depend very much on the extent of resources available. A l umni affairs w i l l be another important area of development, and being an alumnus himself, this is something very close to Prof. Fung's heart. 'Well established universities overseas are very successful in soliciting support, financial and otherwise, from their alumni. Compared to them, CUHK has a much shorter history and relatively younger alumni. Hence, our approach will be to start by building up our links with the alumni, for example strengthening our relationship with the fresh graduates, rather than soliciting donations from them. This can be done by inviting them to return to the college to use our facilities, or holding alumni camps in the summer,' lie said. The Alumni Association has been very effective in cultivating vertical unity among alumni, but lateral unity, i.e. unity within the same graduating class, is an aspect yet to be explored. Unlike in alumni associations where the person sitting next to you may be old enough to be your grandparent, there is no generation gap within the same class. And giving praise where praise is due, Prof. Fung said, 'Chung Chi College has been very successful in this respect. This has largely to do with its having class associations which encourage students of different disciplines but of the same graduating class to form ties with one another that will remain strong after they graduate.' The college's student union supports Prof. Fung's idea and will initiate talks with the current classes soon. The College Endowment Fund has provided resource support for the setting up of a college-based alumni database which will be designed to provide more information and data for communication and programme planning purposes. The database w i ll be useful in helping the college identify alumni who are ready to give talks, share professional expertise with the students, render financial support, or simply come back and have fun. As the first step of improving communication with alumni, the college will publish an alumni newsletter in September 2002. The Assembly of Fellows will also be requested to consider the creation of a Committee on Alumni Affairs and Development as the college's lead body in alumni affairs development. A l umni representatives will be invited to join the committee. The participation of teachers as organizers or coordinators is important in many student activities. To provide enough incentive for the teachers and to cultivate their sense of belonging, the college will organize more teacher-directed recreational activities, subsidize their attendance of conferences, and provide financial support for the research of young members of staff who have difficulty getting research funding. Prof. Fung has also approached the Campus Development Office and the Estates Management Office about beautifying the campus in order to provide a better working and living environment for students and staff. Prof. Fung has the full support of the College Endowment Fund and the Alumni Association in his pursuit of these new initiatives. A fundraising sub-group convened by Mr. Ho Man Sum, vice- president of the Alumni Association, has been set up to explore ideas and means to enhance resource support for the college. The Endowment Fund has given funding for the employment of aproject coordinator to assist Prof. Fung in the setting up of an alumni database and related networks, coordinating alumni affairs, and implementing fund-raising programmes and initiatives. Each college has its unique tradition a d mission. United College has always been proud of its Hong Kong root and base. However, Prof. Fung points out that the college's identity and correlations with the community-at-large should be constantly renewed to reflect changing needs and values. It is hard to pinpoint what exactly the United College spirit is, he said. 'Sure, we emphasize openness, modernization, and advancement with Hong Kong society, but these do not constitute a college spirit,' said Prof. Fung with the perceptiveness unique to someone who grew up with the college. He thinks it is time for students, teachers, alumni, and trustees of the college to review its history and come up with a well-defined spirit and mission for the college. Prof. Fung might have just assumed office as Head of United College but he is already looking into the future. 'I hope that with these new plans in place, many alumni will return to the college to witness the changes and achievements with us when the college celebrates its Golden Jubilee in 2006,' he said. Piera Chen