Professor Chen Zhi, an internationally acclaimed scholar and researcher in Chinese Studies, has arrived at UIC to begin his new role as Vice President (Academic).

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Brought up in Beijing, although having spent most of his career in Hong Kong, Prof Chen can associate his background with that of UIC: a sweet linkage between the two cities of history and culture that offer top-notch education.

From Beijing to Hong Kong to Zhuhai

Prof Chen obtained his Bachelor of Arts in History from Peking University and Master of Arts in Chinese from Nanjing University in the 1980s, before acquiring his PhD in Chinese Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, US in 1999.

After lecturing at the National University of Singapore and the University Wisconsin-Madison, he started his long journey with Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) in 2000.

Prof Chen has a reputation as a widely influential professor and a thoughtful and caring educator, as well as an experienced university administrator.

He secured research grants from the University Grants Committee of Hong Kong for a number of years, in addition to publishing several monographs and editing influential journals. He was promoted to Professor in the Department of Chinese at HKBU in 2010, before being appointed Chair Professor in 2013.

Prof Chen served as the Head of Department of Chinese at HKBU between 2010 and 2013, Acting Dean of the Faculty of Arts between 2015 and 2017, Associate Director of the Institute of Creativity between 2011 and 2017, as well as the founding Director of Mr Simon Suen and Mrs Mary Suen Sino-Human Institute between 2011 and 2014. Between 2012 and 2014, Prof Chen was appointed Acting Director of Jao Tsung-I Academy of Sinology and was the Director between 2014 and 2017.

First of September 2018 has seen Prof Chen move to Zhuhai, ushering in a brand new adventure, in which he is hoping to bring his successful experience of Hong Kong tertiary education to boost UIC’s further growth.

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An old pal of UIC

The story started before UIC even existed. Prof Chen travelled from Hong Kong with family and friends to visit the site of what would become the UIC campus, located at Beijing Normal University, Zhuhai.

He has since kept an eye on the development of UIC, serving as an external examiner as well as a research fellow of HKBU-UIC Joint Institute of Research Studies. On many occasions he has shared his insight into Chinese studies as a guest lecturer. These experiences have provided him with numerous encounters with UIC students, who have impressed him a lot.

“One student from a poet society keeps sending me his writings of traditional Chinese poems. I have high ratings on his works,” says Prof Chen.

“Another 2011 UIC graduate (Huang Jiaofeng, Cinema and Television Programme) is studying Mohism under my supervision and he is expected to obtain his PhD degree at HKBU this year. He is striving to revive this important ancient Chinese philosophy.”

Prof Chen continues his praise. “UIC students differ from those from other mainland universities as they are open-minded, outgoing, and willing to express themselves. They have good bilingual skills, they think out of the box, and they are fostered as whole persons, which helps the mission of China’s tertiary education.”

He deems that adding Liberal Arts Education to China’s tertiary education landscape is a valuable complement to its diversity. Noting the fact that universities in Hong Kong have grown miraculously to a world class level over the past few decades, he is confident that UIC owns the distinct advantages to make use of the resources it can gather from Hong Kong.

“UIC is competitive as it produces well-rounded students with its unique educational philosophy,” he adds.

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Looking to the future

Prof Chen assumes the weighty responsibility of developing the newly established Graduate School. The School is offering four research postgraduate programmes and two master’s programmes.

He is also looking to further internationalisation of the UIC campus, in terms of faculty, students and a variety of education resources.
In addition, Prof Chen commends the sturdy foundation that UIC has laid over the past 13 years. He believes that UIC should continue to seek support from local government and international academia.

With the stunning new campus, UIC is able to contribute more to engage the local community in economic and cultural development as a university town.

Reporter: Deen He
Photographer: Ivy Liao
Editors: Samuel Burgess, Étienne Fermie
(from MPRO)