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Viva Voce

Paradigm Shift in Alumni Engagement

Anthony Yuen gives new meaning to ‘Homecoming’

(Photos by ISO Staff)

Mr. Anthony Yuen (1977 / NA / Personnel Management), one of the Ten Outstanding Young Persons in 1992, had a distinguished career in business and various public services before returning to CUHK to serve as member of Convocation and the University Council. He talks to the CUHK Newsletter about, among other things, his view on a new strategy for alumni engagement.


When and how did your active involvement in University affairs begin?

It all began with a long-distance call, when I was in Hangzhou in 2007, from a fellow alumnus of New Asia College who told me it’s time for me to render service for our alma mater. I have since been involved in various roles and capacities in the University, the Colleges and the Faculties.

How do you explain the tie between a university and its alumni?

Alumni naturally take an interest in the current development of their alma mater. No matter how long ago they graduated, they would be curious to know how the university is doing, take pride in its achievements and maybe continue to draw nourishment and inspiration from its trove of cutting-edge knowledge. They would also be interested in learning how their schoolmates are doing and reuniting with some of them.

Why is alumni relations important?

CUHK has over 200,000 alumni, scattered throughout the globe. Keeping them in touch with the University and with each other will help strengthen their ties to the University and raise the profile of the University which would in turn impact on our standing and further development.

What’s the challenge of engaging CUHK alumni?

The challenge is how to engage all sectors of the alumni population with available resources. The goal should be to serve and network the greatest number of alumni on existing resources without sacrificing service to any sub-populations, particularly those in far-off places.

What is the new strategy you’re championing?

We have been relying on overseas visits to reach out to the alumni in the four corners of the world. It would be more cost-effective to do the reverse. While we will keep our reaching-out efforts, we may also consider organizing an international homecoming day on campus at regular intervals and invite the overseas alumni to come back. The day programme may consist of a lecture on a topic of interest by a reputable professor, followed by some sharing by alumni members and a networking activity. That would generate tremendous momentum for alumni engagement.

How do you see our alumni in mainland China?

CUHK has been offering academic programmes in the mainland for many years. With the recent graduates from our Shenzhen campus, the mainland alumni body will grow fast. And this is a young and distinguished alumni body, too. Such promising talent would be the dream of many universities. I’m very hopeful our mainland graduates will contribute to CUHK as a whole in many positive ways.

Any thought on the younger alumni strata?

Changing economic times and employment market have made it difficult for some alumni who graduated in the last decade or so. There has been discussion by the Convocation whether career development services can be extended to graduates in recent years. Maybe our student service units and the alumni associations can also lend a hand by disseminating career information to them or encouraging employers who are our alumni to look just inside the University gates.

Do we need an alumni house?

It would be ideal but land is always a scarce resource in Hong Kong. The Alumni Associations Centre opened last August in the John Fulton Centre on campus is the first step. Now we have a place we can call our own to hold meetings or simply meet up.


This article was originally published in No. 532, Newsletter in Feb 2019.

Anthony Yuen alumni New Asia College Alumni Associations Centre CUHK Convocation Council Ten Outstanding Young Persons