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UK Friends of HKU Launched in London
Business Ethics Research to Benefit from £1 Million Donation


The UK Friends of HKU was officially unveiled on June 18, 2019 at a cocktail reception co-hosted by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in London. The charity was established to facilitate UK-based organisations and individuals to donate to the University of Hong Kong (HKU).


Speaking at the launch event, Chairman of UK Friends of HKU, Mr George Payne said, “The mission of the organisation is to support the advancement of education connected with HKU, and its past and present students. Donations to UK Friends of HKU are tax-deductible.”


“Since the inception of UK Friends of HKU, we have received the first gift from a beloved member of the HKU Family, the late Professor Ian Davies, former Vice-Chancellor of HKU (2000 - 2002). We are extremely grateful for Professor Davies’s £1 million bequest.” Mr Payne said.


With this generous endowment, the Ian Davies Professorship in Ethics has been created. It reflects the late professor’s life-long dedication to upholding good ethics in the workplace. During his two-decade long career with HKU, he took up distinguished roles including the Dean of the Faculty of Dentistry, and became the University’s 13th Vice-Chancellor. Professor Davies was widely admired by peers and colleagues for his integrity and strong moral principles.


Ms Maggie Crosswaite, one of the trustees of Professor Davies’s estate, and a long-time colleague at HKU said, “Ian came from a strongly religious family from Wales. Growing up in Swansea in the 40’s and 50’s made him a good, honourable man. His whole career, be it in dentistry or later on in the University’s management, was ethics-driven. Upholding honourable and professional behaviour was his guiding principle at all times.”


“Ian instructed the trustees that a large part of his estate must be donated to HKU. We believe that an endowed professorship in Ethics is the most appropriate way to remember our dear friend’s legacy,” continued Ms Crosswaite.


Four faculties in HKU - Business, Law, Medicine and Dentistry - will be among the first to benefit from the newly-created endowment. Later, all other faculties in the University will be eligible for funding.


The endowment was officially inaugurated on March 20th in Hong Kong with Professor Simon Lam Sing-Kwong from the Business & Economics Faculty named as the first Ian Davies Professor in Ethics. Professor Lam will embark on a new research project analysing ethical leadership in China.


“I feel deeply honoured and privileged for being the first one to receive this endowed professorship,” said Professor Lam. “My research aims to provide strong and clear evidence, showing ethical behaviour by entrepreneurs can bring substantial and significant benefits to their companies.”


“I hope my research can change the business practice and behaviour of business leaders. I learnt from previous research that most start-ups fail. If it fails, entrepreneurs can quickly start another one. But not integrity, it is made of glass. If you drop it, it will break and is very difficult to rebuild,” said Professor Lam.


Referencing over a thousand real-life cases of entrepreneurs in China in the last ten years, Professor Lam has devised an ‘Entrepreneurial Quotient’ system and authored a book with the same title which became a best-selling guide book for Chinese entrepreneurs in China in 2018.


With the newly available funding, Professor Lam will also introduce ethics modules into HKU’s highly-respected MBA programmes. These will be taught in Fudan University in Shanghai and Peking University in Beijing as well.


“One reason to focus on MBA programmes is that they are very influential. MBA graduates will become tomorrow’s business leaders and we must ensure that they will commit to being ethical and will be able to integrate strong ethical practice into the workplace,” said Professor Lam.


The launching reception was well-attended by past and present senior public officials and business leaders from Hong Kong, including Ms Priscilla To, current Director-General of Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office; Lord David Wilson, former Governor of Hong Kong and former Chancellor; and Mr Martin Barrow, Director of Jardine Matheson Ltd and Committee Member of The Hong Kong Association in UK.


Commenting on the keen support the UK Friends of HKU has already received to date, Director of HKU’s Development & Alumni Affairs, Ms Bernadette Tsui said, “We are delighted to see so much interest has already been galvanised around our latest effort to create an effective channel for any friends of Hong Kong in the UK to make a financial contribution to higher education in Hong Kong.”


“We hope to build on the successful experiences of our Friends of HKU charity organisations that are already present in the USA. Ultimately, many bright young minds in Hong Kong will benefit considerably from the charitable acts of our generous donors from here in the UK and  all over the world, and for this, the University is eternally grateful,” concluded Ms Tsui.


“The University of Hong Kong has changed enormously since I was a student there. It has continued to change and to develop at a rapid pace since I was Chancellor, it’s hugely dynamic. No wonder HKU ranks so high amongst Asian universities. It deserves to. And it deserves friends as well,” said Lord Wilson, former Chancellor and alumnus of The University of Hong Kong (HKU).

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