I happened to be in Vancouver last week and through the good office of the Immediate Past President of the Hong Kong University Graduates Association, met the current President of the Hong Kong University Alumni Association in British Columbia Canada together with a number of her Board Members. It was a pleasant and happy meeting and I thank our alumni chapter in Vancouver for the warm hospitality.

We discussed a range of subjects and topical issues related to HKU. President Fennella Sung spoke fondly of the meeting with Professor Peter Mathieson last November when the President and Vice Chancellor was in Canada to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the HKUAA Ontario Chapter. Our alumni bodies overseas traditionally are staunch supporters of HKU. They follow closely happenings about their alma mater through media reports, but occasionally and more usefully through first hand reports from visiting alumni and staff of DAAO. Naturally, they are concerned at the implications of the two recent EGMs and the appointment of the new Council Chairman.

Perhaps one common misconception amongst alumni and alumni overseas in particular, is the role of Convocation in relation to other alumni bodies which number runs beyond 100 and still counting. Very often, people including the media sometimes unfortunately, talk of Convocation and alumni bodies in the same breath as if Convocation represented the latter, or even worse, as if Convocation had line management functions for alumni bodies. Let me quickly say here that we do not. However, let me also say here in haste that we are happy to reflect views of alumni bodies and individual alumnus on any matters related to HKU to the University governing bodies and management. Indeed that is the whys and wherefores of our being here in the first place.

The blur between Convocation and alumni bodies can be due on the one hand to a lack of motivation of the members to understand Convocation’s role and statutory position and on the other to the failure of the University in general and the Convocation Standing Committee in particular to provide the necessary clarification from time to time. There is indeed a need to create more awareness of Convocation’s powers and functions as well as its limitations so as to reduce confusion amongst the public at large and within the membership, which is one of the reasons why I am writing this column.

Back to my meeting in Vancouver, my hosts would welcome more contacts with Convocation SC members who may be passing through the city, and in particular would welcome some SC member to be their one stop contact as and when necessary. Once again, networking with members is a standing function of the SC and we would strive for improvements in the area.

Since I last wrote in this column, HKU has a new Council Chairman in the person of Professor Arthur Li. We look forward to developing dialogues and relations with him for the greater good of HKU and to help making HKU Asian’s global university. The Council Chairman, or for that matter the Convocation of the University, is an institution established to serve the best interest of the University. We all owe it to ourselves to support the institution.

The Year of the Monkey is round the corner. The Monkey is known for its agility, assiduity and sagacity. I wish all of you out there a prosperous, peaceful and constructive year ahead; and I hope to talk to you again soon.

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