Letter to Lingnanians
11 February 2021
I write to convey my best wishes and heartfelt gratitude to all of you as we are approaching the end of the Year of the Rat. At the time of preparing this letter, we are almost a month into the second term of the 2020/21 academic year. I hope all our students have settled well in the new term and all Lingnanians are staying safe and healthy as we continue to fight against COVID-19.
The past year witnessed the world’s devastation by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many countries and regions including Hong Kong are still being ravaged by the fast spreading virus. Despite the unprecedented challenges and changes brought by the pandemic, we remain steadfast in our commitment to pursuing academic excellence and providing the best possible learning experiences and support for our students.
As a good example of the support we provided to our students in dealing with the gloomy economy, the University established the Support Fund for 2020 Graduates (the Fund) in May last year, the first student support initiative of this kind at Lingnan. Thanks to the donations made by many Lingnanians, the University has successfully raised HK$2 million to help graduates weather the economic storm caused by the pandemic. Together with other donations injected by the University, the Fund has reached HK$4 million, with HK$2.7 million being spent on the various support programmes as of December 2020. On top of financial support, our Council and Court members and friends from different sectors have coached and mentored our graduates in support of the latter’s career development. Thus far, more than 600 graduates have benefitted from scholarships, mentorships, internships, start-up funds and other programmes supported by the Fund. I am pleased to report that over 85% of our 2020 graduates are now employed, on top of 9.5% of graduates who are pursuing further studies. I am extremely grateful to all those who have actively supported the Fund in this very challenging time, and to our colleagues of various units for their hard work in implementing this initiative.
Given the very positive outcomes of the Fund and the associated anti-adversity programmes, the University has decided to extend the programmes supported by the Fund to May 2022, and to cover other cohorts of graduates. To achieve the same success, I look forward to your continued support in the future.
In confronting the many challenges brought by COVID-19, we have come to realise that business as usual is not an option. It is more important than ever for us to have a transformative mindset in order to embrace changes with courage and openness. At this time, the University is busy working on the 2022-25 Triennium Planning Exercise proposal for submission to the University Grants Committee (UGC). In addition, we will be pulling our efforts together in the next few months to formulate a rolling Strategic Plan (SP) for the University that covers the period 2022-28 on the basis of the current 2019-25 SP. A rolling approach to strategic planning not only is necessary given UGC’s new ‘3+3 framework’ for triennium planning (i.e., a proposal that covers the next two triennia), but also gives us an opportunity to revisit our strategies and respond quickly to the changing environment and new opportunities, yet holding firm to our vision and mission. To prepare for this 2022-28 SP, I have tasked the Steering Group on Strategic Planning to initiate discussions, and have arranged for a Strategic Planning Retreat to take place in early May which will be attended by various key stakeholders. Before this SP is formally adopted, we will conduct further consultations to seek feedback from other stakeholders.
2021 marks the Year of the Ox. As many of you may know, the ox is closely related to our University in that a song entitled ‘Lingnan Ox’ was widely sung on the Lingnan campus in Guangzhou and the images of the ox are featured in our Students’ Union’s emblem. In the Chinese Zodiac, the ox symbolises strength, diligence and honesty, which resonate well the Lingnan spirit of passion, perseverance and loyalty. These qualities will surely help us overcome adversity and move forward to success as we continue with our pursuit of excellence. While we strive for a better and brighter future, let us remember to show care, respect and support to each other.
I wish you and your family good health and happiness in the Year of the Ox!
Leonard K Cheng