Rector’s Speech in the Ceremony for the Conferment of Honorary and Higher Degrees 2018 ( 01/12/2018)

The Honourable Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture of the Macao SAR, Dr Alexis Tam Chon Weng, representing the Chief Executive and Chancellor of the University of Macau,
The Honourable Chair of the University Council, Dr Peter Lam Kam Seng,
The Honourable Chair of the Honorary Degrees and Titles Committee of the University Council, Mr Lei Pui Lam,
The members of the University Assembly and the University Council,
Distinguished guests, colleagues and students,

Good afternoon. Welcome to the 2018 Ceremony for the Conferment of Honorary and Higher Degrees.

Today is a day of celebration and joy as we are here to witness the beginning of a new journey of another cohort of higher degrees graduates. On behalf of all members of the university, I extend my heartiest congratulations to all the graduates. In addition, I would like to express my gratitude to the teachers who dedicated themselves to guiding you as well as families and friends who supported you during the course of your study. My special thanks go to the local community and the Macao SAR government for their unremitting support to the development of our university. We nurture students par excellence and continue to do our best in our work: that is how we give back to society.

The University of Macau will be conferring honorary doctorates upon five luminaries: Prof Wang Anyi, Dr Aaron J. Ciechanover, Prof Joseph Sung Jao-yiu, Dr Anthony Lau Siu Wing, and Mr Lao Ngai Leong, in recognition of the significant accomplishments they made in their respective fields. Their profound insights and expertise are what make them so inspirational and admirable to others. On this day of celebration, we are very honoured to have with us three of the above distinguished individuals: the Doctor of Education honoris causa — Professor Joseph Sung Jao-yiu, a renowned educationalist and gastroenterology specialist who strives to lead by example; the Doctor of Business Administration honoris causa — Dr Anthony Lau Siu Wing, a leading figure in the sector of air cargo and logistics as well as an exemplary alumni; and the Doctor of Social Sciences honoris causa — Mr Lao Ngai Leong, a prominent businessman who is committed to improving social welfare and supporting education and charitable causes. The conferment for Prof Wang Anyi and Dr Aaron J. Ciechanover will be arranged on a separate occasion.

The University of Macau is committed to nurturing talent at all levels. While a university is underpinned by a strong undergraduate education with distinctive features, we also understand that postgraduate education determines the standards of a university. For this reason, we attach great importance to quality education for postgraduates, with particular emphasis on enhancing their innovative thinking and global competitiveness. The research outputs of our postgraduates in different fields have been recognized internationally in recent years. In addition to publishing papers and winning awards in mainland and international conferences, a number of graduates have obtained professional qualifications from international professional bodies. To cite a few examples: a PhD graduate of the Institute of Chinese Medical Sciences ranked top among the projects of Young Elite Scientist Sponsorship Programme, which is a nationally acclaimed event; a master’s graduate of the Faculty of Science and Technology was selected to the list of talented young people in technology and innovation by the MIT Technology Review, which is one of the most authoritative rankings of the kind in the world; a PhD student of the Faculty of Law was granted fellowship of the Royal Society of Arts; a post-doctoral research team of the State Key Laboratory of Analog and Mixed-Signal VLSI received the 2017 Takuo Sugano Award for Outstanding Far-East Paper at the 65th IEEE International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC); and a PhD student of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities was invited to serve as art consultant and member of the judge panel at an international music festival held in the United Kingdom. Our research teams won more than half of the 2018 Macao science and technology awards.

In the past year, through the relentless efforts of our teachers and students, the university has been making great strides both internally and externally, especially in terms of its global ranking and academic influence. This year, five disciplines are ranked among the top 1% in the Essential Science Indicators (ESI) database; the university is ranked top 400 by the 2019 Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings and the fifth for international outlook. While the rankings are certainly not the sole or accurate indicator of university development, it can, to a certain degree, reflect the international influence of a university. After a long period of planning and preparation, various projects have been up and running this year, including: launching the UM Macao Talent Programme; implementing the Regulation of Management of Intellectual Property; offering interdisciplinary degree programmes to integrate different disciplines with data science; focusing on the research and innovation of three new emerging areas, namely precision medicine, advanced materials as well as neuroscience and artificial intelligence; participating in national research projects and promoting the integration of industry, academia and research in the Greater Bay Area through the Zhuhai UM Science & Technology Research Institute; obtaining the approval from the Ministry of Science and Technology this July to establish the third SKL of UM — the State Key Laboratory of Internet of Things for Smart City, just to name a few of them.

The University of Macau has gone from strength to strength with the support of the central government, the Macao SAR government, the local community, and the concerted efforts of all university members. In the meantime, our educational ideals have become clearer. There is an expression reflecting the wisdom and truth of the literary and cultural circles: ‘The pride of a nation is also the pride of the world’. Enlightened by that insight, we believe that the same is true for university education: the pride of Macao may also be the pride of the world. A university should have a dream. The University of Macau is committed to developing itself into a university of excellence. While this is a long process, our priority is to build the University of Macau into an institution that the Macao citizens are proud of — one that serves the community and one that nurtures talents who are patriotic and community-conscious. To embody Macao characteristics, the university should bear the features and needs of Macao in mind in teaching, research, construction and community services. Only through these efforts can a distinctive University of Macau be a contributor to the higher education community of the world.

Looking ahead, the university will make further progress by leveraging its current momentum in teaching, research, technology transfer and international exchange. More efforts will be made to implement President Xi Jinping’s important instructions on nurturing more talents who are patriotic and empathetic towards the Macao community, as well as attaining more scientific and technological achievements. Against the backdrop of the deepening reform and opening-up of China, the university will bring together talents of different professions to carry out cross-disciplinary and multi-area cooperation. New development strategies will be formulated to develop the strengths of the university so as to further its growth, enabling teaching staff and students to gain more benefits from local, national and global development. These measures will help the university gain a solid standing in Macao, integrate into the Greater Bay Area and relate to the nation and beyond.

Dear graduates, our university is blossoming; its academic standing and impact are on the rise. All these attributes are relevant not only to your past and present, but also to your future. Bidding farewell to this familiar campus, you are certainly proud of the achievements of your alma mater. When you choose scenic spots to take photos as a keepsake of your memorable time on campus, do not forget the sculpture of significance that stands in the Lotus Square: the Wall of Wisdom gifted by the Ministry of Education this April. It is not only a landmark of UM, but also a symbol of the university motto (humanity, integrity, propriety, wisdom, sincerity) and our educational ideal for knowledge pursuit and moral nourishment. Hence, I would like to take this campus landmark to remind our graduates of our motto and educational ideals. Please bear Macao and the nation in mind and contribute to their development in your future life journey. In addition to keeping up with your specialization and research areas, also take note of current affairs, broaden your horizons and be open-minded. Exciting opportunities are here and now for young people in view of Macao’s distinctive positioning as ‘One Centre, One Platform, One Base’, the steady progress made for the Greater Bay Area, the opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, the immense job market and the drive for innovation and entrepreneurship in the mainland. Against such a backdrop, the mobility of high-end talents will be greater than ever as there are burgeoning demands from various sectors. I believe that all these new opportunities could brighten up your career prospects. Not least, I hope that you will find the remarkable success stories of the honorary doctors inspiring and will regard them as your role models to help you shape your own personal and social values and live a fulfilling life. I would like to wish you a bright future and our guests all the very best!

Thank you all!