Steering HKBU to the next level of excellence
25 Feb 2021
Professor Alex Wai, a physicist, educator, and expert in fibre optic communications, took office as the 6th President and Vice-Chancellor of HKBU on 1 February, and he has since been working closely with members of the University community on a wide range of issues. First and foremost is how to future-proof our students in such a challenging time when human life is being reshaped by technological advancements and the global pandemic.
"We are no longer just focusing on traditional work and employment models, but will develop our students as passionate, resilient and adaptable individuals," he said at the "Employers' Luncheon 3.0", which he officiated at on his first day in office. This traditional event, which HKBU pioneered in 1998, adopted a mixed-mode approach to overcome social distancing barriers and connect graduating students with employers.
"This event is a perfect demonstration of how innovative HKBU is in rising to challenges. Likewise our students should possess more than vocational and academic knowledge and be able to embrace the uncertainties in the ever-changing world and appreciate the many possibilities of life," says Professor Wai. To this end, he is determined to drive the creation of an inspiring learning and teaching environment at HKBU to prepare students for the future. He also advocates a more interdisciplinary approach to curriculum design to prepare our students for a future of multiple careers.
Expanding the impact of research
The creation of knowledge is one of the important roles of a university. Rather than just seeking new discoveries, Professor Wai says our research should aim further, as it should have an impact on society as well as academia.
As the new President and Vice-Chancellor, one of his priorities is to further foster knowledge transfer in the liberal arts. "The establishment of the six interdisciplinary laboratories is a good start in terms of generating greater synergies. For instance, we are working to leverage our unique strengths in the arts and creative media, and will build on our ties with the creative industries to share knowledge and create opportunities. We also need to take a great leap by further breaking down the boundaries between disciplines in research. This is what it takes to make ourselves and our students future-proof in a world where knowledge knows no boundaries."
He also calls for stronger links with the private sector and the Government, as well as collaborations with international partners and experts. "Extending our global reach and international collaboration efforts will be key to the advancement of excellence in education, research and knowledge transfer," he says.
Professor Wai sees an enormous opportunity for the University through its network in the nation. HKBU is a pioneer in the area of cross-border collaboration due to its role in the establishment of the Beijing Normal University-Hong Kong Baptist University United International College (UIC) in 2005. "This visionary endeavour will serve as the springboard for us to fly high in education and research," he says.
Professor Wai hopes, over the course of the next few years, that HKBU will be able to further develop joint research institutes and research programmes, and explore joint appointments with UIC, as this will help advance higher education in Hong Kong and the nation.
Having joined the University at a time of great technological progress and upheaval due to the pandemic, Professor Wai acknowledges the challenges facing higher education, but he is also certain that with the concerted efforts of the University community, HKBU will continue to grow its academic and educational strengths, and extend its tradition of excellence in knowledge and research.
"I am excited to join the HKBU family to serve its educational mission," he says. "Together with students, colleagues, alumni, friends and supporters, let's work together to bring hope to society and the world during this extraordinary time."