Welcoming Speech by Dr Henry Ma, Interim Dean of PolyU School of Design at the 24th Congregation

dated 31 October 2018

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, members of the graduating class of 2018 – my warmest greetings to you all.

It is my great privilege to address you on this joyous day. You have completed a challenging academic career at the School of Design.

I have no doubt that the diverse, useful and rewarding experiences you have had during your education here, will serve you well as you step out to new and exciting ventures.

Our School is constantly abuzz with ideas, talent, and plenty of action. In particular, we focus on uniting our talent for the public good, blending the expertise, ideas and passion of university faculty and students to forge solutions to social issues.

This year our students have won world sneaker championships, been awarded for projects mitigating the harmful effects of mobile phone overuse for teenagers, created solutions for people in low-lying areas affected by typhoons, designed innovative recycling solutions, and made games for autistic children.

The list is endless, our students’ and faculty’s works touch on everything from dyslexia to social exclusion.

What separates us from others is that we have a well of deep creativity, but we search deeply for the ways in which these ideas can be applied to real life situations.

We all know the problems we face: from climate change to inequality, we can show the world that design makes all the difference. In this world of increasing division, we need design more than ever.

We are a centre for creative solution across the globe, both in the mission of our school, and the academic pursuits of our students.

Our faculty and staff members who come from across the world. Our home, the Jockey Club Innovation Tower designed by Zaha Hadid, is by many accounts the most beautiful design school in the world.

We are proud of the outstanding work we do here. Our research labs demonstrate tremendous contributions to a world-class, research-based education.

We practice what we preach. Our print shop recently pledged to go green and use FSC-certified paper products for its laser printing services, a critical step in our environmental efforts. We also frequently hold seminars on issues crucial to public debate and interest, forums that address some of Hong Kong’s pressing social issues.

In this spirit, we hope you bring forward into your career this emphasis on research excellence, open-minded attitudes, practical application, and social good. This blend is what will make you brilliant, world-class designers.

Looking at the talent in front of me, I have the highest hopes for your success. Design is in your DNA, I have no doubt that you will overcome any adversity you face and solve the world’s most challenging problems.

When obstacles arise, and indeed they will, remember to keep on going. You will remember all the late nights and hardships, the blood, sweat and tears that you shed to reach this day. You have been through the battlefield, so I have no doubt you will always emerge triumphant.

Finally, I want to make clear that graduation day does not mean we must say farewell.

I sincerely hope you maintain a close relationship with us. So return for lectures, attend events, and even give lectures.

In your design career, you will also inspire future generations of students, so remember as alumni, you have become role models.

I close my remarks by extending my warmest congratulations to each and every one of you.  All of us wish you the very best in all that you do. So go out there and make us proud!