Dean's Speech: Vote of thanks at the 130th Anniversary Homecoming Dinner by the Dean Professor Gabriel Leung

17 December 2017

Chancellor, former Chancellors, Pro-Chancellor, Council Chairman and former Council Chairman, President and former Vice Chancellors, former Deans of the Faculty, fellow alumni, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

How does one even begin to thank each and every individual and institution that have, over the course of the past 130 years, collectively contributed to the Faculty of today? It would be too invidious to mention names so I shall desist. Instead, allow me to express the Faculty’s gratitude by reflecting on our cardinal values of wisdom, compassion and commitment.

To doctor is to teach. On behalf of all alumni, I thank the many teachers who have professed, lectured and demonstrated to us as students; coached, cajoled, scolded as well as comforted us as trainees; and above all cared for us in their personal and unique ways. For each of us, we will have our own heroes (and perhaps villains!) who endowed us with knowledge and inculcated in us wisdom. These are the people who made us who we are. We shall repay our debt to our teachers by staying wise, beyond being just intelligent or smart.

Whether sharing words of kindness with families of organ donors so that others may live, helping children with brittle bone disease stand and walk again, cracking the genetics of hereditary cancer, hunting down viruses and fungi, or providing the science for tobacco control that saves lives millions at a time, it is our overriding sense of compassion that has motivated generations of HKU graduates to dedicate whole careers to the art and science of health and health care. This family of health professionals has grown from the initial class of two medical students, Sun Yat-sen and Kong Ying-wa, to today’s almost 1,200 graduates who were conferred five different undergraduate degrees and more than a dozen postgraduate qualifications next door this afternoon. Above all it is this enduring duty of care and compassion that sets us apart.

From the time of the plague sweeping through Tai Ping Shan in 1894 to the lived memory of the 2003 SARS outbreak, we have stood by Hong Kong. We have never shirked the many awesome responsibilities imposed by circumstance, just as we would stay by the bedside until every last need of our patients are taken care of, as the late Professor Sir David Todd had characteristically exhorted us always. In turn, we are thankful for the commitment the Hong Kong people continue to show us. Your daily commitment in entrusting your lives in our hands is the best “thank you” we could hope for.

This trust that has been placed in us extends beyond geography. To our friends and supporters on the mainland – 祖國的同胞們,您們一直以來的支持和厚愛正是我們的重要支柱。香港大學必定毋忘初心,銘記我們是為中國而立。To our colleagues from around the world – we remain indebted to your friendship and kindness. You have shown us the way as we grew. We hope to continue being your stalwart partner in delivering great care through innovative science.

We must never cease being grateful to our hospital partners – Nethersole, Tsan Yuk, Hong Kong Sanatorium, Queen Mary, Grantham, HKU-Shenzhen and Gleneagles – whose anniversaries we are also celebrating this evening. You have afforded us a roof over our heads and put up with our many idiosyncrasies and imperfections, ultimately in the name of the patients whom we serve.

It is not just supporters who have nurtured our wellbeing we must thank. Without trials and tribulations, we could not have grown. Sincerely therefore we also thank our detractors for pointing out our frailties, for strengthening our resolve to improve and for pushing us to our limits.

Specifically for this anniversary year, on all our behalf, I thank the many many generous people – donors, volunteers, well wishers, students and staff – without whose selfless giving of your financial support, talents, time and energy, none of the events and projects since our kickoff event last October would have been possible. You know who you are. Be reassured that history has reserved a special place for you.


Ladies and gentlemen, thank you all once again and enjoy the evening!