President Professor Way Kuo reflects on the University’s fast-paced responses to the Covid-19 crisis, the interdisciplinary research platforms generating high-impact research for better health outcomes, and the CityU Anthem.
Paraphrasing comments by Robert F. Kennedy in 1966, uncertain times open up opportunities for creativity, says President Way Kuo. In periods of trouble, people often unleash their drive to solve problems and help others.
CityU’s response to the pandemic has shone the spotlight on the creative energy of faculty members, staff and students, and highlighted the University’s capacity to adapt to critical circumstances. Exemplary leadership and the consummate professionalism of the CityU community have been critical to supporting safety.
“Our bold character was evident when CityU rolled out its online platform CityU-Learning in record time after campus was temporarily closed in late January 2020 because of Covid-19,” explains President Kuo. “We wanted to minimise disruption to students’ learning so as not to delay graduation and progress, and thus ensure a seamless provision of high-quality professional education.
Later in the year, when the global impact of the pandemic became clearer, an enormous effort was invested in providing our Class of 2020 with a range of support for securing jobs. The CityU Career Launch Scheme (CARLS) encouraged employers to hire CityU students by offering financial incentives, and extra career coaching and job talks with major global players helped offset the impact of the job market crunch.
It also became evident that the public wished to know more about how universities were responding to the virus. Consequently, the President hosted the inaugural BOLD Forum in April 2020 and also delivered a talk on “Data-Driven Global Pandemic Management” as part of the HKIAS Distinguished Lecture Series in September 2020, explaining the role of data-driven management in preventing delays in, and streamlining responses to, crises.
In addition, recognition for our research contributions to fighting Covid-19 was seen when three CityU projects were granted $8.3 million in funding by the Health and Medical Research Fund under the Food and Health Bureau, while new programmes such as a Bachelor of Science degree with a stream option in Global Research Enrichment and Technopreneurship, a law–math double degree programme, and joint bachelor’s degree programmes in partnership with the University of Edinburgh and the University of Manchester in the UK, emphasised our capacity to evolve and strengthen during tough times.
“Last year was definitely challenging but it was meaningful, too,” says President Kuo. “We performed strongly in international rankings and our highly qualified academics helped to further establish our identity as a world-class university.”
In fact, rankings indicate that CityU is one of the fastest rising universities in the world. We are placed #48 in the world, according to the latest Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) data, while metrics compiled by Stanford University reveal that over 140 CityU faculty members are listed among the top 2% of the world's most highly cited scientists. In fact, in terms of research quality as measured by citations per faculty member, CityU is ranked top in the QS World University Ranking averaged over a 5-year period from 2017 to 2021 in Hong Kong.
“A big part of our success in areas such as rankings is our visionary outlook. We look to the future and anticipate trends, changes and needs. Our Strategic Plan for 2020–2025 provides a clear vision for the next 25 years and details key areas of research, i.e. Smart City, Digital Society, One Health, Matter and Brain, critical areas for encouraging greater prosperity and well-being.”
One Health, one community
A key element in this vision is the development of the One Health principle at CityU. In recent months, several developments have taken place. Work has started on CityU’s veterinary teaching farm in Lam Tsuen, Tai Po in November 2020. The farm will be equipped with international standard facilities and is formulating plans to supply high-quality CityU milk and ice-cream.
The CityU community has been a huge contributor to these successes and will continue to be an integral part of our plans moving forwards, adds President Kuo.
“We welcome the support of our friends and stakeholders. Donations have transformational power and every gift is invaluable, enabling CityU to nurture future generations of professionals, problem solvers and leaders, and allowing more time and space to improve people’s lives.
To this end, the public phase of a comprehensive fundraising campaign titled “United, We Soar” launched in December 2020 after a long period of preparation aims to raise somewhere in the region of HK$2.5 billion. The campaign will facilitate breakthroughs in strategic initiatives, education and research, student development, and campus development, and especially in research to tackle Covid-19.
And finally, we are very excited that our newly written and composed CityU Anthem (https://www.cityu.edu.hk/cpro/cityu-brand/cityu-anthem) has been introduced to the campus and the general public. Themed “Beyond Boundaries”, the song aims to encourage students, faculty, and staff to pursue excellence whilst capturing our special characteristics, values and mission. The song is unique to CityU and will be played at University events.
“I hope to encourage our alumni to support CityU as much as possible and thereby let the world know that our passion for creating a better tomorrow is stronger than ever,” says the President.