Rector’s Speech in the Ceremony for the Conferment of Honorary and Higher Degrees 2023 ( 02/12/2023)

Honourable Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Ms Ao Ieong U, representing the Chief Executive of the Macao SAR and the Chancellor of the University of Macau,

Honourable Chair of the University Council, Dr Lam Kam Seng Peter,

Honourable Chair of the Honorary Degrees and Titles Committee of the University Council, Dr Kou Kam Fai,

Distinguished Members of the University Assembly and the University Council,

Dear guests, alumni, parents, teachers and students,

Good afternoon!

I would like to welcome all of you to the Ceremony for the Conferment of Honorary and Higher Degrees 2023 of the University of Macau (UM). On behalf of all UM faculty and staff, I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to this class of more than 1,500 graduates, and express my sincere appreciation to their family, supervisors and well-wishers.

It is also our honour to confer honorary doctorates on five distinguished individuals today. They are: Professor Cai Fang, Professor Leong Kam Weng, Professor Ching-Ping Wong, Professor Franco Maloberti and Professor William Shiyuan Wang. With their extraordinary academic achievements, they have made outstanding contributions to the development of the world’s economy, science, and culture, serving as role models for UM teachers and students. A fine example has boundless power. We should seek to emulate them, serve, and give back to the community through our knowledge and hard work. Please join me in giving them the most enthusiastic applause as we warmly welcome them and express our utmost respect.

In recent years, with the collective efforts of staff and students alike, UM has kept up with the evolving demands of the new era and positioned itself at the forefront of global higher education. We have also proactively expanded our network of international collaborations. As a result, the university has consistently improved education standards and academic impact, moving step by step towards becoming an internationally recognised university of excellence. In addition, capitalising on the development of the Guangdong-Macao In-Depth Cooperation Zone (ICZ) in Hengqin, the university has been actively formulating strategies to advance research and innovation, and foster industry-academia-research collaborations. The development of UM’s industry-academia-research demonstration base in Hengqin has also achieved positive progress. In particular, this year witnessed the opening of the bridge linking UM campus to the Hengqin Port, which has significantly enhanced the accessibility to and from the ICZ. UM aims to build on the existing foundations and explore further avenues for growth in the Zone.

Dear students, the age of digitalisation and intelligence makes it an imperative to expedite the integration of knowledge and technology across various disciplines and foster synergy. Interdisciplinarity has become an integral concept and feature of UM’s postgraduate education. I trust that you have had the opportunity to experience and engage in it during your studies at UM, and will be adept in application of cross-field, cross-disciplinary knowledge. I am even more gratified that teams of UM teachers and students have won many awards in research and development in recent years, and some of these technological achievements have already been put to use. Examples include the use of the power compensator in Macao’s water treatment plants, and the application of smart fibre optic sensing and acquisition equipment in local construction projects. The first tech enterprise successfully incubated by UM for technology transfer, Digifluidic, released its latest generation product in July this year. This product is set to facilitate industrialisation of digital microfluidic technology, thereby contributing to the development of the health and the high-tech industries in the Greater Bay Area.

At present, the post-pandemic geopolitical and international outlook remains volatile. Global economic recovery has been slow and uneven. These issues are further compounded by an on-going wave of technological and industrial revolution, which continues to have a profound impact on economic and social progress. It is evident to all that the current employment market and competitive environment is more complex and demanding compared to previous times. Many aspects of the future may appear to be ‘foreseeable’ yet ‘unpredictable’. That said, where there are difficulties, there is hope, and challenges and opportunities remain two sides of the same coin. We must stay confident, well-prepared and optimistic. In this regard, I have a few words of advice for my students.

First, rise up to difficulties and dare to tread a challenging path. As the saying goes, ‘it is important to work hard even during times of abundance, and strive on even when life is tranquil.’ The youth should demonstrate the zeal and keenness characteristic of their age, bravely undergo the baptism of trials and tribulations, and emerge even stronger. As the Chinese saying goes, ‘Just like a knife is honed on a whetstone; one’s skills are refined through practice and experience.’ I hope that you will have the courage to venture beyond your comfort zone, both in your future career and personal life, and consciously opt for the arduous trail, taking difficult tasks and environments as opportunities for self-improvement. Only by staying resilient under pressure, keeping your spirits up in times of difficulty, and having the grit to fight through any hardship can you truly harness your abilities, lying flat is simply not an option.

Second, utilise what you have learnt and never cease to innovate. As an UM Master’s or PhD graduate, you have already attained a high level of education. Therefore, you should have the confidence and the means to unleash your true talents no matter what position you may hold in the future. The digital and intelligence era calls for broadening our horizons and pushing the boundaries of knowledge. Only through continuous learning and innovative thinking can we adapt to the ever-changing landscape shaped by new artificial intelligence technologies, and thus constantly enhance our competence. As the world is going through major developments and reforms, I hope you will continue to gain insights, improve adaptability, and continue with innovation in response to your surroundings, dare to venture and explore, and strive to be the pioneers of your era.

Third, aim high and take on responsibilities. Each generation carries its own mission and commitment. I encourage you to align your personal aspirations closely with prevailing trends. Love your country, shoot for the moon while keeping your feet firmly on the ground and maintain an attitude of dedication and pragmatism. Step forward to shoulder ‘the heaviest burden’ and tackle ‘the toughest challenges’. As promising young individuals, you should be prepared to become the pillars of the country, demonstrate commitment, work towards the progress of the country and society as well as the wellbeing of all mankind, and contribute to building a community with a shared future for humanity.

Dear students, you are the hope of the times and the future of the country. I encourage you to believe in your own abilities and potential, and accurately read the pulse of global trends and the development of the country. May you give wings to your dreams, strive forward and create a wonderful life for yourself! I am confident that you will bring change and progress to the world! Last but not least, I would like to wish all the students a happy graduation. And to all the guests, parents and friends, good health and all the very best.