Cover Story

‘Inherit and Innovate, United We Can’ – 65th Anniversary of United College

Script Writer: Ms Man Lan-fong (75/CHI)
Student Translator: Ms Vincy Y M Ng (TRAN/Year 2)
Editor: Ms Shirley T S Lam, English Language Teaching Unit

In celebration of its 65th Anniversary, United College will stage a series of celebration events from 1 January 2021 to 31 July 2022. With 65 years’ persevering efforts of our predecessors, United College has recorded almost thirty thousand young students. This important milestone is marked by the Anniversary Celebration, which will also begin the next exciting chapter for the College. When announcing the slogan for the College’s birthday this year, ‘Inherit and Innovate, United We Can’ (承先敢創,聯合啟航), Ms Lina H Y Yan, Chairman of the United College Board of Trustee added that, ‘65 years on, we cannot afford to be complacent. Carrying on the vitality and richness of the College’s past, we will continue to lead a path to the future. We set sail (啟航) and we embark on a new journey (邁進).’

Logo of College 65th Anniversary

The College specially designed a 65th Anniversary logo. The design concept is about UCians looking toward the Water Tower of United College, enjoying the full and beautiful view of a rising sun. Its poetic meaning echoes with the slogan of United College 65th Anniversary, “Inherit and Innovate, United We Can”. Sunrise marks the beginning of a brand new day, which corresponds to the meaning of “embarking on a new journey”.

The College’s developmental directions and projects

The celebration featured an address by Professor Jimmy C M Yu, Head of United College, who introduced the upcoming key ‘software’ and ‘hardware’ projects. He said, ‘For hardware, a new student hostel is underway. The ground-breaking ceremony will commence with the 65th Anniversary Celebration. The new hostel will strive to create an environment in harmony with people and its surroundings, achieving environmental sustainability and comfortable accommodation with 250 hostel places. A special effort has been made in the design to comply with the building height and area limitations. We are most grateful for the professional advice from Professor Zhu Jing-xiang and the committee members. We are also very glad to have contracted with a design company owned by a UC alumna, who has made the hostel truly eco-friendly. There are several forthcoming projects, which we hope to launch on the occasion of the 65th Anniversary as well, to revitalize some old or underutilized spaces’.

As for software, Professor Yu stated that, ‘We care about our students the most. We recognize the emotional needs of our students and our endeavours to enhance their wellness.’ Having learned about a graduate student’s suicide recently, Professor Yu hopes to help our students cultivate a strong positive mindset. ‘We are seeking for collaboration with external agencies to improve their well-being. Students of United College always excel themselves in learning, but why are they so vulnerable and pessimistic about their future? We need to instill in them the right values.’

‘During the COVID-19 pandemic, we want them to be able to stay persistent in the face of adversity. To strengthen our students’ physical and mental health is the College’s responsibility,’ added Ms Lina H Y Yan. She continued, ‘I have found recently that many young people are confused about themselves, their surroundings, their prospects, and even their identities. I hope that the General Education provided by the College can increase their knowledge in the Chinese culture, facilitate their East-meets-West experience and promote their moral conduct. The ‘‘Student Life Charter’’ launched by United College is a good example of our informal education.’ She pointed out that additional resources from the University will certainly help the College strive for greater success in implementing General Education.

President of the United College Alumni Association, Mr Simon K C Lee, spoke on behalf of the Association, ‘Firstly, we would like to express our gratitude to many alumni for their enormous dedication. Our mentorship programme has been running every year since 2000. Despite its small scale and thus the limited number of participants, we believe both the mentor and the student can benefit since life affects life. We hope that our students can develop a positive mindset through their mentors and bring a positive impact on their friends. The UC Mentorship Programme has been a great success and our Alumni Association will continue to support the Programme, as always. In the yearlong catastrophe of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been united to do our best’.

United UC, a big family with every member’s effort

Students’ learning on campus and the College’s affairs have been largely affected by the epidemic since last year. Our guests shared with us how to anticipate the future challenges while embracing the spirit of United College.

‘The UC spirit is so good and can be possessed by anybody. We are a big family. From the Board of Trustees, the Alumni Association, College Members, to students, everyone is willing to support, help and remind one another. It is important for us to remind each other not to blindly follow, but to give support. We will be striving towards the same goal. The recent epidemic has been a challenge for our staff, as they have been busy arranging for disease prevention measures and the related matters. Another challenge lies in our fundraising work, which is negatively affected by the current economic downturn. We still try our best. I believe that we will finally gain public financial support, as long as our educational beliefs and student performance are recognized by society. We are also grateful for the generous donations from our devoted alumni,’ said Ms Lina H Y Yan.

Professor Jimmy C M Yu said happily, ‘The word ‘‘united’’ means “coming together”. I introduce United College to my new colleagues as the most inclusive and cheerful united whole. They always appreciate the stress-free work atmosphere here for they have already taken up a lot of academic administration responsibilities and duties at university. We have attracted many outstanding research academics at CUHK indeed. If you pay attention to the news on university staff’s achievement, you will find that many of the award winners are our colleagues.’

Speaking of teachers’ research achievement, Professor Yu got more excited, ‘We have established the ‘‘United College Early Career Research Excellence Award’’. Some of our award recipients have also received awards and acclaim at the international level. We have no doubt that United College has proven to be a magnet of talents and scholars. The College cherishes dearly our students too and has newly established ‘‘Joseph Wang Ngai Cheung Undergraduate Research Excellence Award’’ to encourage innovation among students. We see students’ lack of confidence to conduct research studies. Under the guidance of our talented professors, students should seize any opportunity to try and learn, as long as they have identified their genuine interest in research and development.’

Mr Simon K C Lee added, ‘As well described by Ms Yan, UC is like a big family. We care about our teaching staff very much. Every year, all UC alumni working at CUHK are invited to a luncheon to gather and discuss the possible support to the College. The active participation and the warm atmosphere have witnessed the College’s great effort in making everyone feel at home.’

The big birthday party of the big family

The year 2021 marks the 65th Anniversary of United College and an array of celebratory activities will be kicked off. Ms Lina H Y Yan is also the Chairman of the 65th Anniversary Activities Steering Committee. When introducing the preparation work, she told us, ‘The Steering Committee for the celebration of the 65th Anniversary has been established, with two sub-committees and six working groups. The two important sub-committees, the Banquet Organizing Sub-committee and the Fundraising Sub-committee, have taken up a major role in organizing a banquet this year, instead of a ball’. She said half-jokingly, ‘Perhaps people have lost their interest in dancing in recent years!’

The six working groups established will work on academic activities, cultural and art activities, health and sports activities, alumni activities, student activities and communication. Ms Yan pointed out, ‘The Fundraising Sub-committee and the Communication Working Group play an important role in promoting the celebration events. With the effort of the Fundraising Sub-committee, we can gather more resources. The College would like to spend smartly on the 65th Anniversary and we welcome  any external support such as title sponsorship, apart from sponsorships from alumni, their families and friends. Please feel free to contact us. As for promotion, the Communication Working Group will be keeping our alumni, students, teaching staff updated through the College’s website, social media platforms and publications.’

When introducing the upcoming activities for alumni, Mr Simon K C Lee said, ‘The Association is always supportive to the College’s Anniversary Celebration. The 65th Anniversary Alumni Day has been tentatively scheduled on 30 October 2021, the last Saturday of October, together with the Alumni Dinner. We still want to consider organizing a tour for our returning alumni from overseas to get together and join the Dinner. It all depends on the circumstances such as the availability of flights. We will also exchange ideas on ways to strengthen the bond among alumni through tea receptions with our alumni working at CUHK. A highlight in July 2022 will be the Alumni Homecoming Camp, which will offer our alumni, with their spouses and kids, an enjoyable experience in the hostel.’

Apart from the celebration, the Alumni Association will continue to organize other activities. Mr Lee reported, ‘In the past 6 months, despite the pandemic, we held ‘‘UC Get Together’’ online twice. Two remarkable alumni, Mr Ricky W K Wong and Mr Eric K K Ng, were invited to speak on the topic ‘‘Stay-at-home Economy, Brand New Way of Retail’’ (宅經濟•新零售). Our evaluation has found online talks rather popular and interactive. The Alumni Association will consider strengthening the online platform and further promote the celebratory events online.’

The membership of United College Alumni Association is one of the largest among all colleges, with more than three thousand members. The President of the Association expressed, ‘There is still room for improvement – we have more than twenty-eight thousand alumni. I hope to recruit more members through the Anniversary Celebration’. A big discount on the life membership fee of the Association will be offered from 1 January 2021 to 31 July 2022. The official fee for a life membership is five hundred dollars. During the celebration, the fee will be halved. UC graduates who have not yet joined the Association should seize the chance!

Mr Lee took the chance to invite our alumni to contribute further to the College, ‘The Alumni Association would like to urge more alumni to donate on a monthly basis to help our students. We hope that the United College Student Learning Support Fund will gain more support from our alumni. We welcome any amount of donation, as every dollar counts’.

(Editor’s remark: Three of our regular alumni donors since the launch of the programme in March 2013 have shared with us. See the column below.)

For the past year, the College has experienced daunting challenges posed by the volatility of the epidemic. In planning academic programmes and student activities,  the 65th Anniversary Celebration in particular, extra efforts are put in to ensure a smooth preparation. We believe God rewards those who work hard and united we can – the anniversary celebration this year will be held successfully as scheduled!

Monthly Donation Programme for United College Student Learning Support Fund

Professor Fung Kwok-pui (73/CHEM): It is the best tribute to the College and support to our students when our alumni can donate monthly via autopay services. Their regular donations will provide a stable source to implement the College’s activities. This means a lot to the College. I highly recommend every alumnus to join this meaningful Programme to achieve better results, for we are united in one purpose.

Ms Jane Y L Wong (78/SOCI): Being financially stable is very crucial to any institutions. I joined the Monthly Donation Programme without any hesitation. Regardless of the amount we are able to contribute, the number of generous alumni in supporting the Programme is what counts.

Mr Ray Y K Ng (85/PHYS): If everyone contributes a little, more UC students in need will be able to get farther in life. Please support the ‘‘United College Student Learning Support Fund’’.

UCians, you can also show your support to College Development. Please click here to know more details about this scheme. Thank you.