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Sir Robert Brown BLACK

Doctor of Laws
honoris causa

I do not wish to prolong unduly this morning's ceremony, but this is the last Congregation which I shall attend as you Chancellor, and I hope you will all bear with me if I intervene to speak at this stage.

It has been a proud experience for me as well as a happy one to have been Chancellor of the University of Hong Kong, and I am very moved indeed by the honour which the University has conferred upon me this morning. On my final departure I shall retain a tie with the University as the holder of this Honorary Degree.

When duty and pleasure are indistinguishable I think on inevitably feels that an honor for the performance of the duty is really undeserved. Because of my appointment as Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Hong Kong I have been ex officio your Chancellor, and so it have been my duty to concern myself with the well being of the University.

It so happens that the University won my interest and sympathy from the early days of my service on its Council as long ago as 1952, and I have been only too willingly engaged, since then, to do what I could for this great institution of higher learning in the East.

And so, while I have obliged to fulfil my responsibilities for the University, this has been a source of pleasure as well as a matter of compelling interest.

I was particularly delighted to be in Hong Kong when the University celebrated its Jubilee Year, and I believe that the celebrations which took place during 1961, apart from anything else, brought to us all in Hong Kong a fuller realization of the regard in which our Vice-Chancellor and this University are held by so many learned people and learned bodies beyond our shores.

This was good for us, of course, and I think it was also good for the University, embarked as it was on a programme of expansion. It was said, at the time of its foundation, that Lugard was too ambitious.

We know, however, that his ambition was realistic and timely; and, in the interval, the University of Hong Kong, with its wide range of disciplines in the humanities and in the sciences, has more than justified Lugard's faith. More and more, we find the leading members of our staff invited to lecture in other universities in the Commonwealth, in Europe, and in the United States.

And, with their increasing international reputations, they have brought added prestige to us. I am looking forward to the opportunity of laying the foundation stone, early in the New Year, for the new hall for post-graduate research, made possible by the generosity of Dr. Tang Shiu-kin and his friends, and I hope that improvements of the conditions for exchanges and for post-graduate research generally will continue to be made in this corporation of teachers and scholars, the University of Hong Kong.

I thank you, Mr. Vice-Chancellor, and all members of the University, for you honour to me this morning, and to my thanks I add my warmest good wishes for the continuing flowering of this institution of learning.

Now I would like to say something about our Vice-Chancellor. It was a matter of greatest possible regret to me that I was unable to attend the Congregation of the University last November; for the most important reasons I have to be in England at the time and so lost the opportunity of paying my tribute to Sir Lindsay Ride in the year in which Her Majesty the Queen had conferred upon him the honour of Knighthood.

This honour, of course, we connect immediately with his outstanding service to our University, of which he has been a member since 1928, when he came to take up the post of Professor of Physiology. He was Dean of the Faculty of Medicine for various periods before the last war, totaling about eight years, and he has been Vice-Chancellor since 1949, fourteen years ago, and during the very difficult period of rehabilitation.

But the honour embraces Sir Lindsay's services to the community in other fields as well. We will all readily recall and acknowledge what he did for the Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps and the Royal Hong Kong Defence Force, and how appropriate it was that he should be Commandant for fourteen years, in view of his own record with the Corps and as Colonel Commandant of the British Army Aid Group in China in the three years preceding the liberation of Hong Kong.

Sir Lindsay's service here was the acme of the volunteer spirit. We also know of his participation in the work of institutions of higher learning, both in Asia and in the Commonwealth, and of his service on committees concerned with educational matters, on which his advice has been experienced and valuable.

Sir Lindsay's preoccupation with music is not so marked these days, but I have memories of his work with choirs, notably the Hong Kong Singers, wielding his baton not only with the musical appreciation of an expert, but with the enthusiasm of an Australian anthropologist delving into the social pattern underlying a Gloucestershire wassail.

I have been very glad indeed that, during the long period of my Governorship of Hong Kong, Sir Lindsay Ride has served as Vice-Chancellor of the University. His honour at the hand of Her Majesty was well earned, and we in Hong Kong, in the University, more widely in educational circles, and still more widely in the community as a whole, can share in the pride which he himself and his wife and family experience in the award.

To the Vice-Chancellor and his devoted wife, Lady Ride, I extend now the public tribute which circumstances prevented me from delivering last year.

And now to come to those of you who have graduated today. I congratulate you very sincerely on your success and to each one of you I offer my very best wishes in your future career. I wonder how many of you we shall be able to count on to find these future careers amongst us in Hong Kong?

With problems arising from our ever increasing population, our pre-occupation with the expansion of our economy and our social services, we sorely need men and women equipped with the discrimination and intellectual development which a university education should provide.

You will not that I included social services just now, and these I mean in their wider sense, covering medicine and education and concern with the welfare of the people, the three-and-a-half millions who live in Hong Kong and for whom so much has yet to be done.

In their university days, the young are usually fired with idealism and charged with enthusiasm for truth and with compassion for the sum of human suffering, but I am disturbed at times to find how promising and well-qualified young people are inclined, only too soon after leaving the university, to turn away from jobs which are remunerative in terms of humanity, in order to take up jobs remunerative in terms of money and social status, a change which I have referred to before in the words of John Buchan as seeking a soft option on life.

I hope that the community of Hong Kong as a whole will be the future beneficiary of your work and your compassion, and I repeat my very best wishes to each of you who have taken your degrees this morning.

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