Chairman Mr YK Cheng: My days at HKBU
28 Dec 2018
When Chairman Mr Cheng Yan-kee first accepted the invitation in 1999 to serve on HKBU Council, he thought the term was only two years. Yet 2.0 became 20. He ended up serving HKBU for 20 years, leading the University to reach a good number of milestones.
Mr Cheng claimed that he has no connection before joining HKBU Council in 1999, but ever since then, he has been inextricably linked with the University. In 2007, he was appointed Deputy Chairman of the Council and the Court and became Chairman since 2013. Over the past two decades, he has contributed significantly through his leadership in achieving our vision, making HKBU the best university of whole person education. “I am not a member of the Baptist Church. I had not even been to HKBU before I started serving on its Council. However, I feel grateful for the opportunities to serve the University in this special way for 20 years,” says Mr Cheng.
Walking around the campus, one could see that over the years, many buildings and facilities were built or reconstructed to provide students with a better learning environment. As a practising civil and structural engineer, Mr Cheng has been the Chairman of the Campus Development and Facilities Management Committee under the Council for 17 years, offering valuable professional comments on the expansion and planning of the campus and supervising every single development projects.
“I was involved in many of the HKBU projects, such as the student hostels, the Shek Mun Campus, the Madam Chan Wu Wan Kwai SCE Tower, the Jockey Club School of Chinese Medicine Building, the Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre at Shek Kip Mei, the Kai Tak Campus, the Communication and Visual Arts Building, the Academic and Administration Building and even Lei Seng Chun,” he recalls. Committed to the University, Mr Cheng attended to every single task by himself and worked closely with the colleagues on campus. During the few months when the post of Director of Estates was left vacant, he even shared part of the Director’s duties with Dr Mok Man-hung, then Vice-President (Administration) and Secretary, to ensure that the projects progressed on schedule.
Apart from campus facilities, Mr Cheng also endeavoured to bring in top talents to the University, which he said is the most pressing task for HKBU’s future. “I think a department should have at least 15 faculty members to get its strength into full play for optimum performance. Thus I hope the Talent100 initiative could attract more outstanding scholars to HKBU for its better development.”
Talent hunt is never easy. During his tenure, Mr Cheng was twice tasked with searching its President and Vice-Chancellor for the University. “The process is like having to find somebody to get married with and to have the wedding ceremony done within a year. You can imagine how difficult it was,” recalls Mr Cheng. Though a big challenge, he managed to have Professor Albert Chan and Professor Roland Chin to take the helm of the University.
Like a locomotive which is key to the performance of high-speed train, a Council Chairman is a role model as well as leader of a university. Nevertheless, Mr Cheng always stresses that the key to good governance is people. He commends that HKBU is like a cosy big family, where people are close to each other. What he appreciates most of HKBU is the devotion and flexibility of the staff here.
As his term soon comes to the end, he would like to encourage all students and alumni to “stay curious, enjoy college life and lead a balanced life.” He also welcomes colleagues to keep in touch with him anytime. “I am only HK$90 taxi away!” says Mr Cheng, who is always pleasant with a sense of humour.