Letter to Lingnanians
07 September 2020
Welcome to the new academic year and the new term! I hope all of you had a relaxing and enjoyable summer break.
We understand that some of our students, faculty and staff may feel uncertain, anxious and yet wishful about the new term, hoping that face-to-face teaching can be resumed as soon as possible at the University. It was our goal to do so this Fall, but unfortunately the worsening of the COVID-19 situation in Hong Kong in the past months has made it impossible. To ensure the safety and well-being of members of the University, we have decided that the mode of real-time online teaching will be continued throughout the entire Fall term of the 2020/21 academic year. This was not an easy decision, but safeguarding the health and safety of the University community is our highest priority in the current situation as we continue to uphold our educational mission. With our substantial experience of implementing online instruction in last academic year’s Spring term and the continued enhancement of the infrastructure and equipment for our virtual campus, I am confident that all teaching and learning activities will be conducted in an organised and effective manner. As the term progresses, we will review the teaching arrangements, and increase the face-to-face elements and resume offline extracurricular activities if the public health conditions permit. At this moment, there is a glimpse of hope. In the last week or so, there was a decline in the number of local infections. In addition, the Government has launched the Universal Community Testing Programme to track down asymptomatic patients. If the situation continues to improve, there would be an opportunity for us to resume some face-to-face classes from the end of this month.
While the pandemic has upended the life of everyone, the University strives to provide the best support to our students despite the challenges it faces. For example, with our virtual campus much enhanced, we offered the New Student Orientation (NSO) online for new undergraduate students to acquire key information and connect with their peer mentors to ensure that they are prepared for their university life. The first Virtual Career Fair@LingnanU will be held later this year to provide students with information of internship and graduate programmes offered by various industries. Throughout the year, many online co-curricular programmes and activities will also take place to support students’ growth and development, for instance, a new Art and Culture Enrichment Programme under the Lingnan Language Enhancement Initiative (L²EI).
As for our new postgraduate students, an online orientation webpage has been launched to provide them with essential information on academic programmes, learning support as well as health and safety guidelines. The School of Graduate Studies is working closely with programme offices and the University’s other units to provide a wide range of services and activities to support the postgraduates throughout their studies.
As mentioned in my last Letter, our “Support Fund for 2020 Graduates” (the “Fund”) was set up in May 2020 to assist our graduates of 2020 in developing their careers and starting up businesses. I am pleased to report that the Fund has received overwhelming support from our donors, alumni and friends. With their support, as of now we are grateful to have raised a total of HK$2 million donation. Their generous donations have helped our graduates kick-start their career under tough economic conditions. I am also deeply appreciative of our Court and Council members who have provided career coaching to around 80% of our graduates on top of their generous donations. The path to economic recovery will remain cloudy for some time to come but the University will make its best efforts to support our students and graduates.
While our beloved city is battling the third wave of the pandemic, so much has happened in Hong Kong and across the globe. Locally, we saw the introduction of the National Security Law and the postponement of the Legislative Council Election. Internationally, tensions between China and some western countries have intensified. Despite the rapidly changing environment, Lingnan will always be committed to pursuing and upholding our vision, mission and core values. In fact, these extraordinary times present unprecedented opportunities as well as challenges to our quest for knowledge and truth, but whatever happens, our commitment to serving the society remains unchanged. As an example, a group of our students, with the help of our Lingnan Entrepreneurship Initiative Team, which as highlighted in my last letter offered ultra-violet disinfection services to Hong Kong’s sub-divided units, have recently worked with the Hong Kong Society for the Deaf to design transparent masks to help kids with hearing impairment.
I am grateful to all Lingnanians for their unfailing support to the University as we embark upon the new academic year under the pandemic conditions. I am confident that, by supporting each other with empathy, patience, and camaraderie, Lingnan will emerge even stronger in the days to come. To end this letter on a positive note, let me share with you a good news that Lingnan has recently achieved an overall rating of 5 stars in the "QS Stars University Ratings". Among different assessment categories, Lingnan achieved 5-star ratings in teaching, employability, internationalisation, research, facilities, arts & culture and inclusiveness.
Wishing you all a healthy and successful academic year!
With best wishes,
Leonard K Cheng