Knowing the ways of gentleness and of strength

Shuyee Chan

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Recently, the President has been busy meeting with colleagues from different departments to exchange views with them on the next five-year plan. "The time was well spent. We all gained a lot," he said.

During the process, what struck him was CityU's comprehensive range of courses and its structural complexity, both of which he finds unprecedented in their scope. We have a non-UGC funded School of Continuing and Professional Education, a College of Higher Vocational Studies specializing in associate degree programmes, which is currently UGC-funded (but may cease to be so in a few years), and we have a School of Creative Media where artists and technologists work side by side. Our School of Law trains students to be experts in both Chinese Law and the Common Law, and to work using both Chinese and English with comparable ease--this means the School of Law houses, under its roof, teaching staff from two different backgrounds.

Then, of course, there are the Faculty of Business, the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, and our unique, in Hong Kong, Faculty of Science and Engineering. On the personnel front, we have, on the one hand, 13 world-renowned academicians from different parts of the globe, and, on the other, over 200 teaching-focused teachers in the College of Higher Vocational Studies. Professor Chang said, "Few famous universities in the world have this breadth and complexity. It makes setting an across-the-board standard of excellence for the University virtually impossible. How would you pick the champion in a race in which both high-jump and long-jump athletes compete?"

Yet despite these special conditions, CityU has steadily made its way from a polytechnic to a university of repute and substance in the short span of 18 years, an evolution, the President said, that definitely does not owe itself to a miracle!

He is of the view that CityU has every one of its staff to thank for its achievements. "Knowledge, harmony, and the right priorities. That is why we excel," he observed. If our colleagues did not possess the above qualities, he explained, they would not have been able to strive towards our common goals with as much solidarity, and, hence, brought into fruition the Aurora Strategy, drawn up five years ago. On this note, the President reiterated his heart-felt thanks to our colleagues.

The President also took the opportunity to thank the City University Staff Association. With a membership ranging from minor grade staff to world famous professors, the Staff Association is truly a microcosm of the University in all its structural complexity. To be able to give effective representation to each and every department and level of the University, he said, and, moreover, to propel the institution forward, is quite a feat. "This goes to show that the leaders of the Staff Association have enormous competence and a spirit of dedication. I personally treasure the existence of such a body within the institution. I also admire their practice of extensive consultation. And I hope that such constructive interaction within the University can be strengthened," Professor Chang said.

The President believes that "whether it is the head of the Staff Association, of a department, or of a university, how we deal with our fellow beings is the most important because, after all, we live in a human society. And this is also why we give so much weight to whole person education here at CityU."

Perhaps this explains why the two mottos that keep our President company in his study both have to do with the handling of human and social relationships. They are also a reflection of their owner's own attitude to society, an attitude marked by respect and caution. The one on the right, a gift from famous Hong Kong calligrapher Mr. Lin Yue Heng, consists of these words from Analects of Confucius: "Commending but not harsh, grave but serene. " The one on the left, from Yijing (Book of Changes) was written by Professor Rao Zong Yi, a world-renowned scholar of Chinese culture: "If a gentleman knows the ways of the subtle and of the obvious, the ways of gentleness and of strength; then he will possess all the qualities that are expected of him by all men. The President said he especially likes the connotations of the line "knowing the ways of gentleness and of strength, so much so that he has made a seal with these four characters to remind himself at all times of the teaching they advocate.

"In China with its long history, there exists infinite wisdom. If only we could try to understand or experience it, what we learn would also be infinite." With this, the President expressed his sincere wish to share the ways of dealing with the world taught by the two ancient quotations with all his colleagues at the University.

 

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