Aiming for new heights

Face to Face | Terence Chang Cheuk-cheung | 7 Oct 2021 10:59 am

Open University has changed its name to Metropolitan University, which reminded me of Eileen Chang Ailing's essay Bi Ye Zheng Ming Hu, or "Has to Rectify the Name," in which she suggested that"naming is a kind of creation."

As the university is finishing a phase of its mission and embarks on a quest for new heights, a new name is befitting.

That evening, I had the opportunity to chat with its president, Paul Lam Kwan-sing, a "renowned scholar and expert in environmental chemistry, ecotoxicology, and environmental risk assessment."

He told me about the new public lecture series 'Talk of Metropolis.' "I'd like to invite distinguished speakers to share their expertise in persuasive and relatable talks from which the audience would benefit."

That, I think, is a tall order for a one-hour seminar on hot topics. I suggested Lam give a talk on the environment and ecology, areas in which he specializes. He laughed and told me he can be a reserve, "standing in if I couldn't find a speaker for a talk, or if the speaker couldn't show up."

There is a saying that "a new official brings three fires," meaning, introduces new measures. Lam has three targets - to offer quality education, to enable graduates to find good jobs or start a business, and nurture them to be good citizens.

These are not high-sounding concepts but practical goals, and Lam said the university knows the students' needs.

"Half of our students [about 10,000] are attending in-person classes while the other half are still doing it online. We have to be flexible with our mode of education delivery and to tailor-make it for the students," he said.

It's like a ride on a sightseeing bus, he said. "When students find something they are interested in, they may hop off to explore it before hopping back on to continue with the journey."

The school has been a gatekeeper for its quality assurance of its education and an incubator of talent for society, roles that Lam hopes the university will continue to play well.

"We place emphasis both on the academic and non-academic aspects of student transcripts. We must give recognition to activities like extracurricular volunteer work to foster a sense of good citizen, and teach by example in doing what is right and in taking responsibility," he said.

Terence Chang Cheuk-cheung is the retired headmaster of Diocesan Boys School

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