’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear sums up many a first impression of the uninitiated of our honorand, yours truly included a score back as a twenty-something-year-old lecturer. Her fearsome outward appearance belies a fierce fair-mindedness and unyielding professionalism that are hallmarks of her leadership style.
And grace my fears reliev’d whenever one runs into trouble because she would invariably bail you out, be it a case of placental rupture in the delivery suite or getting a medical education trial off the ground against a chorus of objections from the senior professoriate.
How precious did that grace appear when the honorand took over responsibility, as dean, to implement the then brand new medical curriculum in 1998, unleashing a wave of similar reforms across many Asian medical campuses. The respect that she commanded for having been a leading light on problem-based learning led to her acclamation as founding chairman of the Asian Medical Education Association.
Thro’ many dangers, toils, and snares just about sums up her tenure in another pioneering initiative of the medical faculty as the first hospital chief executive of HKU-Shenzhen Hospital. With steely determination, she navigated the choppy waters of the Shenzhen River and instigated wholesale operational reforms that overturned decades of entrenched practice, all in the name of the people whose lives we have been entrusted.
The hour I first believ’d that there are some who are naturally blessed with many-splendored fortes was indeed when I came to know our honorand well. Betwixt launching new curricula and hospitals, she managed to summon additional energy taking the helm of the Hong Kong Academy of Medicine, in an uninterrupted succession line of HKU alumni and faculty. Her talents even extend to the dementia-busting game of mahjong and latterly musical keyboard and singing.
While the President’s rallying cry on behalf of the United Nations’ “HeforShe” initiative has found echoes in every corner of the campus, I will always remember ’tis grace hath brought me safe thus far since the time she signed my appointment papers that forms a palindromic “SheforHe”.
From the Dean of Medicine saluting a former Dean, it remains my honour, Mr Pro-Chancellor, to present “Amazing Grace”, Professor Grace Tang Wai King for the Honorary University Fellowship.