August 28, 2019

At the beginning of the 2019-20 academic year, I am glad to report that the History Department has gone through another successful, happy, and memorable year.

2018 was really special and important for the History Department because we celebrated our 40th birthday.  With a formal kick-off ceremony in early February, we went through a whole year of celebration loaded with nearly 30 scholarly events and activities for alumni and students.  A series of six celebratory “Ruby Lectures” and several distinguished talks were proudly delivered by internationally-renowned scholars. An exhibition that showcased our journey over the past four decades was hosted by the Library.  A pictorial book, Forty Years in Retrospect, was published to commemorate this important occasion.  The climax of our celebration was a grand homecoming event in December, in which over three hundred past and present members of the History family participated, including a few former professors and alumni who flew from North America to join us.

We set up the “Department of History 40th Anniversary Scholarship" to cement the legacy of our ruby anniversary, and are extremely thankful that the tremendous support secured meant that we were able to establish a dozen new endowment scholarships under this award series.  For individual scholarship titles, please refer to the "Scholarships" page of this website.  Donations were received from a number of existing and new supporters, including distinguished alumni and esteemed friends of the department.  These permanent awards will forever remind us of our happy celebration, register our pride, and endlessly benefit the future generations of our students. In the same year, we also received sizeable donations which were added to existing scholarships and endowment research projects, as well as substantial donations and gifts made in support of our grand reunion in the winter. We are ever grateful to all of our friends and supporters, including those who choose to remain anonymous.

In AY 2018-19, the department organized/co-organized 6 large-scale events, including conferences, fora, and exhibitions, and 29 lectures/seminars. Energetic as usual, our faculty members have engaged in more than 200 individual research activities, including publishing journal articles and books, giving lectures and conference presentations, and serving as panel chairs/discussants. At the moment faculty members are working on a total of 25 funded projects, mainly externally sponsored.  The department is extremely proud that seven members were successful in the GRF/ECS exercise this year, which is the highest record in our history. The department's dedicated engagement and productivity in scholarship is illustrated by all these endeavors. The attainment of external fellowships, IoC grants, conference grants, FRG grants, and service-learning grants by several members is also worth mentioning. Moreover, it is very encouraging that two retired professors were conferred Professor Emeriti, effective July 1, and two members of our teaching staff at the rank of Lecturer II will be promoted to Lecturer I on September 1.  Recognition must be given and gratitude must also be extended to our dedicated Office Team, which collectively won a university-level team award for their outstanding service.  Congratulations to all of our colleagues for the much-deserved success! Our research students also spared no efforts in publishing and attending conferences and they have achieved a proud record of publications/presentations in the previous academic year.

Our undergraduate students in all programs continue to work hard and flourish.  In AY 2018-19, our students won over 60 scholarships and prizes, making the past year again a breakthrough.  A particularly astounding achievement is that History students continued to win the 2018 HKBU Library Awards for Excellence in Undergraduate Research for the second year in a row.  A significant number of our graduates in recent years were admitted to first-rate universities in North America, Europe, and Australia to further their studies, some on full scholarships.  Furthermore, 18 students participated in exchange programs and studied outside Hong Kong for one or two semesters, while 9 students completed internships.  Sponsored by external collaborators, the department co-organized a successful exchange and study tour to Hunan in May, in which 11 students were fully financially supported to visit various places in Hunan and participate in voluntary teaching in partnership with students from Central South University.  For the first time in our history, the department hired a total of five undergraduate students to work as student research assistants during the summer.   This opportunity was made possible by university funding and resulted in a very rewarding experience for several highly-motivated students.  In accordance with the value the department places upon the voices of students, our Faculty-student Consultative Meeting was held as usual in April and the turnout this year was the highest in recent years, with over a hundred students and faculty members gathering to share their views on academic and non-academic matters in a frank and open manner.  Moreover, our Peer Mentoring Program continues apace.  It is also illuminating that a total of 54 graduates in HKBU's Class of 2019 declared a Minor in History, a record-breaking number which again ranked us as the second most popular Minor program in the university.  We witnessed a growth of about 400% when compared to the average student numbers in the Minor program's first five years since 2009.

Two faculty members departed/will depart to take up senior positions in and outside HK.  A number of our recent PhD graduates also secured very respectable positions in local and non-local academia. The department wishes all of them every success in their future endeavors.   In AY 2019-20, we will welcome a number of new faces, including three part-time lecturers who will mainly support the delivery of several General Education courses.  We shall also begin to look for a newcomer to fill an opening.  Our welcome is also extended to several research assistants, as well as 85 newly declared History Majors in different undergraduate programs, including 23 Senior Year entrants and 9 transferred students.

With new blood joining us, the History family is ever growing with a positive spirit. With more than four decades of history and countless distinguished alumni, the department deserves a decent Alumni Association, and this is a target set for the new academic year.  More information will be released in due course and please allow me to extend an advance invitation to all of our alumni to join this association.  We are looking forward to reconnecting with many of our accomplished and dedicated alumni when the association inaugurates. 

Wishing all of you a most successful year ahead.

Clara Wing-chung Ho
Head and Professor
Department of History