Your Excellency, Mr. Vice-Chancellor, ladies and gentlemen. Among those whom you have honoured today are men who studied in the forerunner of this University, the Hong Kong College of Medicine, and others who were undergraduates here in that precarious first decade. All of us have witnessed with pride the astonishing growth and development of the University that has taken place during the past fifty years. It is to Lord Lugard to whom we must first pay tribute. No one would claim that he foresaw all that was to follow after the foundation stone was laid, but it was due to his wisdom and genius that a broad base was created upon which future developments were possible. Adhering always to the basic principle of religious and racial neutrality, the University has enjoyed the vigour that stems from a cosmopolitan society living in harmony. In my day, teaching in arts had not long been added to that in medicine and engineering, and it has been a truly wonderful experience to have watched the steady and balanced development that has occurred since then. The scope of teaching in the arts is now very extensive; science came of age last year; and architecture, extra-mural studies, the school of oriental studies, and the creation of a university press are notable post-war developments. A large share of the credit for the very considerable post-war metamorphosis belongs to our present Vice-Chancellor who has been associated with the University for over thirty years, a wise a well-loved figure who today deserves our warmest congratulations.
The Public Orator has drawn attention to my views on the nature of the relationship between the alumni and our Alma Mater, and has rightly said that this should be life-long and reciprocal. Our bounteous mother has never been short of wisdom or virtue, but she has often been short of money and moral support. It is to her sons and daughters, like any other mother, that she turns for help. There have been many of us, during these fifty years, who have not failed her, and again many others who have simply come to her to 'get a degree'. It will no doubt always be so, but as our Alma Mater moves into her second half-century, I look forward to the ties between her and the ever-growing body of alumni becoming more and more closely knit.
I regard it as a great privilege to have been called to speak on behalf of those who have been honoured today. Some of us who can recall one or two brushes with authority as undergraduates, find a certain irony in becoming Doctors of Laws today. But you have bestowed these degrees upon us honoris causa, and we are deeply appreciative of the fact that our various careers and associations with the University should be considered to merit such distinction. Up to the end of last year, the number of honorary degrees conferred corresponded closely with the number of years the University had existed. Dr. Thomas today became the seventy-third man to be so honoured, and the sixteenth with the space of three months. We are assured, Your Excellency, that this does not indicate a depreciation in market value but rather a natural accumulation of dividend in the course of time. When, in the years that lie ahead, the University comes to select its hundredth honorary graduand, we hope that those of us who have been awarded such degrees and are still surviving, may be called together in special commemoration of the occasion.