The final sessions of the enterprising President’s Tea Gatherings took place over the Spring, with students invited to various informal get-togethers to meet President Tony F Chan. Such occasions, held over the academic year, allow students to share with the President anything from their passions to discussions of choosing subjects, and to happenings on campus, all in a casual, relaxed setting.
"As a new student, I was curious about the gathering, so I joined to see what it was like,” said French student Denis Khamsing, an Industrial Engineering and Logistics Management postgraduate. “When I did my bachelor degree in France, I didn’t have the chance to meet the president even though the student numbers were quite small. I don’t think it is a common activity there. So I was quite surprised that HKUST, as a major university with lots of students, could organize such an activity for us. I felt honored to be able to approach and discuss different topics with the management in the university.”
The popularity of the meetings means that students need to register first and then be chosen by lottery. Around 20 students will attend one session. The activity has been running since President Chan joined the University in 2009. In 2013-14, six gatherings have taken place.
One of the initiatives resulting from these gatherings is the President’s 1-HKUST Student Life Award that encourages and provides funding for creative student-organized projects, such as the popular TEDxHKUST inspirational speaker event. Sean Carim, a Year 3 student in Life Science used the platform to speak up on catering options. “I felt happy that I could voice issues related to healthy eating on campus to the President, as I wanted more options catering for different eating needs, such as Halal options.”
Several well-received social events for faculty members from different Schools and Offices have been held at the President’s Lodge, allowing senior administrators and faculty colleagues of all levels the opportunity to meet each other. On these occasions, the President will share his visions for the University and the updates on developments and international collaborations. The get-to-know-you events help to strengthen ties among members. “It was a relaxed setting to chat with colleagues from other departments,” said Prof Gyu-Boong Jo, Department of Physics, who joined HKUST at the start of the current academic year.
Recently, a social gathering with leaders of University student organizations was arranged at the President’s Lodge, with around 70 executive committee members joining the event. Different societies were able to find out more about the other student organizations at HKUST, creating greater understanding of shared visions and exploring areas for further cooperation. Discussions with the President included society recruitment and facilities, along with leadership training opportunities provided by the University.