Interview with the President

A new chapter begins

Professor Freddy Boey Yin Chiang was installed as CityU’s 5th President on 18 May 2023. An accomplished leader in higher education, a distinguished scholar, and an inventor, he is on a mission to lead CityU to new heights on the global stage, focusing on a learning-centric approach and engaging with the community.

President Boey’s impressive academic track record includes multiple leadership positions at esteemed universities, including the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU). As Chair (2004–2010), he transformed the School of Materials Science and Engineering at NTU into a world-renowned powerhouse in research and education; and as Provost (2011–2017), he elevated NTU’s standing in the QS World University Rankings from 74th to 11th and to the top position in Asia. At NUS, where he was Deputy President (Innovation & Enterprise) from 2018 to 2022, he spearheaded the Graduate Research Innovation Program (GRIP), increasing the number of deep tech start-ups by four times and making it Singapore’s foremost deep tech start-up programme.

Leading by example

President Boey's outstanding institutional leadership and exceptional research achievements are recognised worldwide. His many innovations include key research contributions into functional biomaterials for medical devices, and he has founded several spin-off companies to commercialise his cardiovascular, ocular and surgical inventions. His customisable hernia mesh received US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval, while his recent COVID swab design gained a European CE mark. Moreover, he has received Singapore’s highest scientific accolade, the President’s Science & Technology Medal, and a prestigious Imperial College London Faculty of Medicine Fellowship. In addition, he has been granted honorary doctorates and professorships from universities in mainland China, Indonesia and the UK.

“Professor Boey is joining CityU at a very exciting point in our development within the local, regional and international higher education sectors,” Mr Lester Garson Huang, CityU Council Chairman, said at the Installation Ceremony in May. “We now have a new leader of great talent and vision, a pioneering inventor with a rich research, administration and teaching background.”

In turn, President Boey has been highly impressed by CityU’s remarkable progress in research and innovation in the past decade under our former president, Professor Way Kuo. “It is an incredible honour for me to serve this energetic institution and its community as President,“ he said, commenting that CityU is one of two universities worldwide with the fastest upward trajectory in global university rankings, a testament to the dedication and commitment of the whole University.

CityU Council Chairman Mr Lester Huang (right) presents the University Seal to President Boey.

A learning-centric approach

According to President Boey, universities worldwide need to confront unprecedented challenges in today’s fast-paced society. Students face a world with a dramatically shortened knowledge cycle and where digitisation permeates every aspect of people’s lives. This means those seeking to give and gain knowledge can no longer simply immerse themselves in age-old teaching and learning methods.

“To prepare students for a sustainable, lifelong career and future, CityU must go beyond traditional Institutional Learning and shift the focus to become learning centric rather than teaching centric,” he said. “It is my intention that CityU students will not just get a great degree but also a wonderful and enduring education while here.”

He explained his perspective further: “The key to nurturing tomorrow's global leaders lies in Inspirational Learning, Interactive Learning and Innovative Learning. Inspirational Learning sparks a passion that motivates students to want to learn – not to pass exams but to satisfy their curiosity. Interactive Learning equips students to work and learn effectively within a team. Innovative Learning encourages students to explore beyond academic boundaries and embrace inventions.”

President Boey believes that lectures and examinations alone are no longer adequate for attaining these outcomes. Rather, students must be empowered to acquire hands-on experience through internships and other avenues.

During his installation speech, President Boey encouraged faculty and students to become more learning-centric.

Together, we build tomorrow

While CityU is a globally connected university, it is also very much part of the Hong Kong community. Indeed, for President Boey, engagement with the local community should not be regarded as an option but a core value. “This benefits the community around us. It also enables us to educate our students about their social responsibilities and increase engagement with local schools and less-advantaged communities,” he said.

On the research front, both faculty and students need to propel forward discoveries and knowledge transfer that will have a scientific, technological or social impact, President Boey emphasised. “We should remain committed to promoting and facilitating all forms of meaningful and applicable research with the potential to generate economic or social benefits,” he said.

Unwavering alumni support is another substantial pillar for CityU. Alumni associations including the Convocation, Eminence Society and alumni networks spreading locally, in mainland China and overseas, share a united passion for the University and contribute in various ways to its development. “Alumni are an integral part of the University community. Their diverse contributions have helped us achieve many milestones. I cherish continuous support from alumni as we strive to create more opportunities for students, advance our research and strengthen local and global engagements with our extensive network and expertise,” President Boey said. “I look forward to meeting more alumni and listening to their views on University development.”

President Boey expressed confidence that by working together, the CityU community would transform challenges into opportunities and lead rather than follow, thereby building a better tomorrow. He believes CityU is at the forefront of redefining the role of universities for a future world while striving to equip Hong Kong's young people and all those who join the University with the knowledge, skills and values they need to navigate the complexities ahead.

This is how CityU can create a brighter future for all.

Pro-Chancellor Dr Chung Shui-ming (front row, fourth left), Council Chairman Mr Lester Huang (front row, third right), Council members, senior management and other University representatives extended a warm welcome to President Boey (front row, fourth right).