Rector’s Speech in the Ceremony for the Conferment of Honorary and Higher Degrees 2019 ( 09/11/2019)

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

Welcome to the Ceremony for the Conferment of Honorary and Higher Degrees 2019. On behalf of all members of the university, I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to all the graduates. In addition, I would like to express my gratitude to your teachers, families and friends who supported you during the course of your study.

Today, it is our great privilege to confer the degree of doctor honoris causa upon four luminaries as an expression of our utmost admiration towards the significant contributions that they have made to the university, Macao and the nation in the areas of higher education, science and culture. I am very pleased to introduce to you these four distinguished individuals who will henceforth be intimately associated with the University of Macau (UM). They are: Doctor of Law honoris causa — Mr Qiao Xiaoyang, a key contributor to legislative work that paved the way for the reform and opening up of China as well as a key facilitator for the development of the new campus of UM; Doctor of Education honoris causa — Ms Lau Sin Peng, a senior educationalist who has dedicated herself to the development of education in Macao for many decades; Doctor of Science honoris causa — Prof Dennis Lo Yuk Ming, a renowned expert in clinical applications of molecular biology who has played a pioneering role in the development of non-invasive prenatal diagnostic tests; Doctor of Business Administration honoris causa — Dr Roy Chung Chi Ping, a prominent businessman in Hong Kong who has been committed to drawing talent back to Macao. All four recipients have outstanding accomplishments and have had a profound impact in their chosen fields. It is their dedication, perseverance and persistence that make them shining examples as they are.

As the only public university offering comprehensive education in Macao, UM has been making great strides in development and has become an important window to Macao for the nation and the world. Over the past year, UM has formulated development strategies focused on expansion in size, internationalisation, faculty development and R&D. In response to the trends in higher education, research and innovation in Macao, China and all over the world, UM has adopted the ‘RISE’ strategy, which includes four elements: Relevance, Impact, Significance and Excellence. This strategy allows for efficient talent nurturing and planning of teaching and research. UM has also drawn up a new blueprint to encourage cross-disciplinary collaboration with a view to developing UM through both inheritance and innovation, giving full play to its strengths and scaling new heights in the pursuit of excellence.

In line with the nation’s Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, the Macao SAR government has announced an annex to its Five-year Development Plan, titled The Macao Special Administrative Region’s Participation in the Construction of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. The document gives direction to the development of Macao, and also brings new opportunities for UM to participate in the development of higher education and innovation in the region. Since China formally launched the Greater Bay Area, it has become a development strategy to which the nation attaches high importance. Riding on this wave, the university is working closely with the SAR government in policies and work plans, and is earnestly involved in taking up tasks related to the Outline Development Plan. The measures include: developing the first industry-academia-research demonstration base in the mainland through Zhuhai UM Science & Technology Research Institute for research output transfer, and promoting innovation through the sharing of research resources with partners in the region. The university is also jointly nurturing talent with partner institutions in the Greater Bay Area. This includes launching joint PhD degrees with Shenzhen University and Southern University of Science and Technology, as well as undergraduate exchange programmes with Shenzhen University, Sun Yat-sen University and the South China University of Technology. In addition to these, many university-level alliances have been forged to promote cooperation. By pooling together the research and teaching strengths of members, it is hoped that all-round regional cooperation can be effected with the aim of developing the western section of the Greater Bay Area into an innovation and technology hub and a cradle for talent nurturing. Examples of such collaboration are: founding the Alliance for Technological Innovation and Talent Development in Western Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area together with Beijing Normal University-Hong Kong Baptist University United International College and Wuyi University; establishing the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Marine Science and Technology Innovation Alliance and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Space Science and Technology Alliance with Sun Yat-sen University; forming the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Academician Innovation & Entrepreneurship Alliance with the Federation of Guangdong Academicians, as well as an alliance for Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao industry-academia-research innovation with Zhuhai Dahengqin Technology Development Co., Ltd. All of these will contribute to the sustainable development of Macao, as well as the western section and the whole of the Greater Bay Area.

Academic research and technological innovation are highly valued by the university. As a top international university located in the western section of the Greater Bay Area, UM has made solid progress specifically in the field of innovative research over the past year. Through surveys and systematic planning, the university has devised a plan for collaborative development of emerging disciplines and provided strong support to interdisciplinary research and programmes as well as innovation and entrepreneurship. In recent years, the university has also increased its investment in humanities and social sciences. This includes: the formal inauguration of the Cultural Building this year, setting up the Institute of Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences (IAS) and the Centre for Constitutional Law and Basic Law Studies. These efforts have allowed the university to go from strength to strength in the related disciplines and provided intellectual support to Macao for developing itself into One Centre, One Platform and One Base. In addition to these, the university has also set up a joint key laboratory with the Ministry of Education (MOE) Key Laboratory of Bioinorganic and Synthetic Chemistry of Sun Yat-Sen University, a joint laboratory of brain and cognitive sciences with the Institute of Biophysics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, MOE joint key laboratories and MOE key research centres. Such strategic and diversified complementary collaboration allows all parties to leverage their research and disciplinary advantages, so as to make breakthroughs in research and development of related technologies. This year, the university also laid down a research and development strategy which adopts the problem-oriented approach, deepens cooperation between arts and sciences and focuses on collaborative innovation and knowledge transfer. It also formulated a strategic blueprint with a 3+3+3+3 framework: giving full play to the research and leading role of the three state key laboratories on Chinese medicine, microelectronics and Internet of Things for smart city; promoting research in the three emerging fields of precision medicine, advanced materials and regional oceanology; building interdisciplinary research platforms for the three fields of artificial intelligence, data science, and cognitive and brain sciences; as well as establishing three research platforms in humanities and social sciences, namely the Centre for Macau Studies, the Asia-Pacific Academy of Economics and Management, and the IAS. The university has been facilitating closer collaboration between the platforms and faculties so as to achieve synergy and to integrate teaching and research, as well as arts and sciences. This, it is expected, will define the academic strength of the university, Macao and the nation.

After 38 years of development, with the support from the nation and the SAR government, UM has acquired its unique advantages: its location in a special administrative region, its special mission, special status and unique education model. It also enjoys social recognition and international reputation. As the strongest comprehensive university in the western section of the Greater Bay Area, UM will continue to work in line with development trends of the nation and the globe based on current educational and research outcomes. Combined with the advantages brought about by the development of the Greater Bay Area, I believe UM will have an even larger space and arena for development. UM graduates will enjoy more opportunities and broader horizons. Going forward, the primary task of UM will remain talent nurturing. With the aim to be rooted in Macao, integrate into the Greater Bay Area and reach out to the whole nation and the world, UM will spare no efforts to consolidate its focus and live up to the expectations of the nation and the local community. It will create a larger platform for talent cultivation and research collaboration, actively enhance its international competitiveness and promote the internationalisation of the higher education of Macao.

With this solid foundation and development edge, UM will definitely forge a luminous future, to be enjoyed by all of our alumni. Dear graduates, UM is where you started your journey to success. I am sure you will grasp the opportunities presented to you along the way, create promising futures and become pillars of the society. Last but not least, I wish all the guests good health and happiness in life. Thank you.