Opening Address of Prof Cees de Bont, Dean of School of Design, at the 20th Congregation

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, members of the graduating class of 2014 – my warmest greetings to you all. It is my great privilege and sincere pleasure to address you on this joyous day.

Today represents a significant turning point. Graduates, you have completed a challenging academic career at the School of Design. Each one of you has emerged with diverse, useful and rewarding experiences.

We also stand at a special crossroads for the School of Design. As many of you know, this year marks our 50th anniversary. At this important milestone, I am delighted that together we have achieved recognition with an international flavour.

SD is home to faculty and staff members who come from more than 15 countries, serving approximately 1,400 students. And our new home, the Jockey Club Innovation Tower, is by many accounts the most beautiful design school in the world.

But most of all, we can be proud of the excellent work we do at SD. As just one clear example, the Jockey Club Design Institute for Social Innovation unites talented perspectives for the public good. The JCDISI blends the expertise, ideas and passion of university faculty, industry leaders and everyday citizens.

In a similarly positive spirit, SD’s eight research labs continue their tremendous contributions to a world-class, research-based education. Each lab’s achievements in the past year are too numerous to mention. So I simply offer this point: our students and society benefit from the open-minded attitudes, meticulous research, and practical application of what the labs have done. 

We at SD also understand the value of ‘strength in numbers’. We have extended our collaborations with other PolyU schools and faculties, such as the Faculty of Business for International Design and Business Management. This popular course and others help us connect with many educational institutions outside Hong Kong. 

In short, we at SD believe that every effort should be made to prepare our students for their professional lives. Let me express my highest hopes for your success. In the near future, many of you will be hands-on designers, working long and hard. I encourage you to keep at it, even when difficulties arise. 

In addition, I encourage you to be entrepreneurs. A steady desire to connect with the marketplace keeps designers in touch with society’s needs. Also, remember that PolyU has funds to support your entrepreneurship. 

Finally, I want to make clear that graduation day does not mean we must say farewell. We at PolyU want to maintain our close relationships with you. Please return to attend lectures, or even give lectures. There will always be a fascinating variety of events taking place here, and SD needs its alumni to keep growing and improving. 

Graduates, your superb record reminds us that creativity, problem-solving, and entrepreneurship form the heart of SD’s outstanding education. I close my remarks by extending my warmest congratulations to each and every one of you.  All of us at SD wish you the very best in all that you do!