Office of the President

June 15, 2006

Wednesday morning, June 14th

Office of the President

As I began my Asia trip in Hong Kong, I was reminded of my last visit here, nearly nine years ago. On that trip, I had the pleasure of attending an academic gathering to witness the transition of Hong Kong from British to Chinese oversight.

It was an exciting, historical moment, but I also recalled the obvious anxiety in the voices of many Hong Kong natives I met. Uncertainty about the future was muted by cautious optimism. Nonetheless, there was much concern about the direction Hong Kong would turn.

Throughout Wednesday’s meetings it quickly became apparent that Hong Kong has thrived under the “One Country – Two System” policy that was launched in 1997. There is a strong sense of confidence and energy about Hong Kong, and any sense of anxiety is long gone.

I especially enjoyed meeting UW alumni and friends who have become an integral part of the optimism and vibrancy of this exceptional place.

Alumni like Joseph Chan of Hutchison Global Communications, Mitchell Stocks from Latham and Watkins law firm, Lui Tong of Jilian’s Fashions, and hundreds more are engaged actively in the excitement of Hong Kong. When talking of this city-state’s future, they now share a vision of serving as the gateway to China, offering high-end financial, legal, and technical services and sourcing functions for the growing Chinese economy. It is thrilling to see so many Huskies actively shaping the future.

We will be posting photos soon that show we had a very successful alumni event, bringing together many Hong Kong alums for the first time. Lui Tong, as chair of the Hong Kong Alumni Association, did an absolutely wonderful job bringing this event off.

Through discussions with leaders of the University of Hong Kong and Chinese University, I learned more about the significant informal ties that already exist between their faculty and ours, and I heard about the high regard they already have for the UW because of those ties. It is certainly apparent that there are many opportunities for our faculty and students to work in partnership with these fine Hong Kong universities, something we agreed to pursue in the coming months.

I also was reminded that we have a long way to go to build the reputation and recognition of the UW. Too few of the business and government leaders — including U.S. State Department folks — know of the UW’s strengths or our position among research universities. The presence of dozens of American as well as international universities in Hong Kong makes for a crowded field. Advertisements for Australian universities run on local TV. We have to work hard to gain the international recognition that our faculty, students and staff have earned.