【明報專訊】DR CHUNG CHI-YUNG, who founded Shue Yan University together with her husband Dr Henry H L Hu, became a Hong Kong legend long ago. The couple devoted all they had to education. In doing so, they embodied the strength of character traditionally characteristic of Chinese scholars, which is rare and commendable now, when many put fame and wealth first.
Until 1971, when Shue Yan came into being, Dr Hu was a barrister of repute in the profession, and Dr Chung taught and headed a department at Baptist College. Their careers were so successful as to allow them to live in ease and comfort, but they plunged themselves into education and poured every cent they had into Shue Yan.
Dr Hu and Dr Chung founded Shue Yan in the early 1970s mainly because university places were scarce then. They did so to provide students with opportunities to receive tertiary education and bring up capable people for the community. If one looks at the roll of Shue Yan alumni, one will see there is no lack of them in various professions, businesses and government departments. It is certain that, as time passes, many more Shue Yan graduates will take up important positions in all branches of society.
The couple's strength of character has made a strong impression. In 1978, the government suggested to three tertiary institutions that they should switch to offering three-year programmes, and it promised to give them funding if they agreed to do so. However, upon consulting its students, Dr Chung decided that Shue Yan should stick to the four-year system. It remained outside the mainstream of tertiary education. Baptist College and Lingnan College, which accepted the government's proposal, became government-funded universities long ago. Not until 2006 was Shue Yan granted the university status. The bitter hardships Shue Yan people endured on the long and arduous way are hard to describe to outsiders. Now, thirty-odd years afterwards, local universities offer four-year degree programmes. That shows Dr Chung and Dr Hu then made the right decision and adhered to it. Not lured by advantages or daunted by the attendant pressure, they persevered in doing the right thing. Their courage is to be admired. Now in this place there are many who do not scruple to stand the facts on their heads, talk sheer nonsense and "call a stag a horse" in talking about the constitutional reform or other matters. That is very lamentable indeed. The phrase "strength of character" is not listed in such people's dictionaries.
The headship of a university is a position that is prestigious and, one may say, quite well paid. However, if the head of a university thinks his office is just like any other job and aims solely on improving its ranking, he may have "achievements" to his name, but what else would he do that people could take pride in?
Dr Chung has departed this world. What she left Hong Kong includes not only Shue Yan University but also what she taught by precept and example. She laid a sound foundation for Shue Yan University. It rests with Shue Yan people to carry forward her spirit of devotion and continue the legend of the "Shue Yan parents" so that the university will go from strength to strength. We wish them every success.