Speech by CS at University of Chicago Center in Hong Kong Naming Ceremony (English only) (with photos/video)
Professor Zimmer (President of the University of Chicago, Professor Robert Zimmer), Anthony (Deputy Chairman of the Hong Kong Jockey Club, Mr Anthony Chow), Francis and Rose (University Trustee of the University of Chicago and donor Mr Francis Yuen and his wife Ms Rose Lee), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to welcome Professor Robert Zimmer, President of the University of Chicago, to Hong Kong and to join him at the Naming Ceremony of the University of Chicago Center in Hong Kong today. It is indeed a happy coincidence that Chicago is our partner city in the Business of Design Week (BODW) 2016 commencing later this month. Featuring the theme of "Chicago Made", this year's BODW embodies the innovation spirit and creative endeavours for reshaping the future. I have no doubt that the University of Chicago Center in Hong Kong will also play that futuristic role.
This Hong Kong Center will house the Asian campus for the Executive Master of Business Administration, EMBA, programme of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business (Chicago Booth). Chicago Booth is a top-notch business school that has won global acclaim. I met with Dean Sunil Kumar of the Chicago Booth on two occasions in 2013 and 2014 about the plans to relocate Chicago Booth's Asian campus to Hong Kong, with a view to further enhancing the school's regional and global presence. It is naturally, in my view, a very wise move and something my government warmly welcomes.
Despite Chicago Booth's fame and our enthusiasm to receive its Asian campus, the allocation of the ex-Victoria Road Detention Centre site, or what we now call the Mount Davis site, to Chicago Booth under the Government's Land Grant Scheme to support the development of self-financing post-secondary programmes was done in an open, fair and competitive process, the hallmark of Hong Kong's way of conducting business. I wish to congratulate the Chicago team involved in a job well done.
I am pleased that the University of Chicago has enhanced the value of this project by turning it into a University of Chicago Center offering not only the EMBA programme but also a venue to bring together faculty, researchers and students from Chicago to work with those in Hong Kong, Mainland and beyond on a wide range of issues. I am also thankful to the Hong Kong Jockey Club and one of the alumni of the University of Chicago, Francis, and his wife Rose, for their generosity which has made this great initiative possible.
Hong Kong is the world's most competitive and freest economy. Located at the strategic heart of Asia, our city can access all of Asia's key markets within four hours and half the world's population within five hours. As the gateway to the immense business opportunities in China, we are also gearing up to capitalise on our country's Belt and Road Initiative, an ambitious scheme designed to strengthen economic, political and cultural links amongst over 60 economies spanning three continents. Apart from business, people-to-people link also forms an integral part of the Belt and Road. To home Chicago Booth in Hong Kong will deepen the University's engagement in countries in Asia and along the Belt and Road corridor.
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government has always put education at the top of the agenda. Indeed, education is the biggest spender in our budget, accounting for over 21 per cent of the Government's recurrent expenditure. We aspire to further develop Hong Kong into a regional education hub with world-class universities and quality institutions through diversification and internationalisation. We welcome non-local students to study, to do research and to take part in exchange activities here. It is our vision to nurture graduates with a broad knowledge base, global outlook, rich learning experience, skills to think critically and creatively, the ability to work independently and collaboratively, and most important of all, the integrity and devotion to serve the community where they come from.
Chicago Booth is the second oldest school in the United States and one of the most highly regarded business schools in the world of professionals and leaders. Its decision to choose Hong Kong as the base of its flagship EMBA programme and other short-term programmes, which share the same faculty with those in Chicago and London, marks a significant milestone in Hong Kong emerging as an international education hub.
As the Secretary for Development in the last term of the HKSAR Government responsible for Hong Kong's heritage conservation work, the University of Chicago's Hong Kong centre is a very special project to me. The ex-Victoria Road Detention Centre is a Grade 3 historic building with strong heritage significance which makes it a challenging site for redevelopment and revitalisation. I saw the artist's impression of the design which was done by the late Bing Thom, the same architect who designed the Xiqu Centre in our West Kowloon Cultural District. I have every confidence that the building will be a much valued piece of architecture in Hong Kong and a Heritage Interpretation Center on the campus to showcase the history of the site, with free guided tours for the public, will no doubt enrich Hong Kong's heritage asset. Thus, for the future University of Chicago Center we can envision not only a state-of-the-art institution offering a superb learning environment to students, but also a unique landmark reflecting Hong Kong's architectural traditions and heritage.
I congratulate the University of Chicago on this visionary endeavour and look forward to the opening of the new campus.
Thank you very much.
Ends/Monday, November 21, 2016
Issued at HKT 13:05
Issued at HKT 13:05