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HKU confers Honorary Degrees upon Nobel Laureate in Chemistry Professor Roger Tsien Yonchien at the 181st Congregation

December 08, 2009

Dr the Honorable David Li Kwok Po, Pro-Chancellor of the University of Hong Kong (HKU), conferred an honorary degree upon Nobel Laureate in Chemistry Professor Roger TSIEN Yonchien at the 181st Congregation today (December 8) at the AsiaWorld Expo.

The degree was conferred upon Professor Tsien in recognition of his contributions to the fields of cell biology and neurobiology. The award was conferred to Professor Tsien in absentia, who could not attend the ceremony due to a delay in his flight.

HKU's tradition of awarding honorary degrees began in 1916 to award individuals in recognition of their distinguished service and commitment to the University, the community, and to academia. They are also conferred to those who have made valuable intellectual, social and cultural contributions to society and the world.

At the ceremony, the degrees upon 6,830 graduates on the class of 2009 were also conferred. Among them, 292 were at the doctoral level, 2,815 at the master level, and 3,723 received bachelor degrees.

HKU Vice-Chancellor Professor Lap-Chee Tsui congratulated all graduates on behalf of the University. He told the graduates that they are now living in some very difficult times where the flux of change has overwhelmed and shocked many around the world.

"My message to you is this: you must have confidence in yourselves, and you must persevere in the face of difficulties." Professor Tsui said education at HKU has armed the graduates with the knowledge and skills that they should be able to survive well and compete successfully in whatever they decide to do.

"As HKU graduates, you must rise to the challenges and opportunities of global citizenship." He told the graduates that the combination of technological advancement and globalisation means that the community they interact with now stretches right around the world. So do their responsibilities to the global community.

"Embrace your responsibilities and understand the impact your choices will have on others, across boundaries of nation, race, and religion."

Professor Tsui reminded the graduates the importance of continual learning, and that in today's knowledge-based economy, they will need to be a lifelong learner if they are to make the most of your personal potential in the long run.

In a video message addressing the ceremony, Professor Roger Tsien Yonchien encouraged the graduates to take full advantage of a university education to find out, beyond the acquisition of book learning, their true interests and talents.

"Universities have a special role in fostering intellectual creativity and academic freedom, of course. They have the explicit mission of conducting ground-breaking research and allowing scholars to question established dogmas. But just as importantly, universities provide a sheltering arena where students can try out different courses, areas of study, and career options, so that everyone can find out where his or her true interests and talents lie." He said.