A Bountiful Deed: From One Seed to A Forest - 45th Anniversary Celebration
By Prof Dr Teh Geok Bee, November 2020
This year Southern UC would be celebrating its 45th Anniversary with the theme of "A Bountiful Deed: From One Seed to A Forest". To paraphrase, it means that we shall reap what we sow. If we sow goodness, we shall reap goodness as well. And the reaping is bountiful due to blessed multiplication factor of the potential harvest.
If one were to survey the campus ground of Southern UC today, one would not fail to notice many trees with tags of `donors' or so-called 'planters' who had generously donated funds to Southern UC during its formative years. The tags serve as a lasting commemoration of their generosity. Many years had gone by and the trees flourished and stand tall today to be witnessed by the future generations.
In the early month of October 2020, a small team comprised of the Chairman of the Southern UC Board of Directors, Dato’ Tan Meng Seng, Vice President Mr Lau, Puan Rosliza (Director of Planning, Development, Accreditation and Quality Assurance Office), Puan Saidatul (Senior executive of IGSR), Ms Tan Si Young (Senior executive and PA to President) and I had made the historical trip to Ministry of Higher Education at Putrajaya for the official submission of documents for Southern UC's application to upgrade to full-fledged university status. The submission schedule was off by two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic and movement control order lockdown exercise from March to May during the year. It was indeed a challenging year for Southern UC; to juggle between the efforts for upgrading as well as to stay financially agile during this trying time.
I strongly believe we shall reap bountifully the effort that we had put into upgrading preparation. The storm of COVID-19 would indirectly amplify the strong foundation and financial agility of Southern UC. Although the recruitment of new students especially international students was severely affected due to closed international borders but prudent risk management and cost cutting efforts which started in 2019 had made this ripple effect of COVID-19 relatively manageable.
I would like to thank all our strong supporters who had stayed with us through thick and thin and continually to do so especially during the year of 2020. As we together look forward to 2021, l pray that it would be a better year for all of us
Happy and blessed 2021.
Our Great Aspiration
As the saying goes, “Where there is no vision, the people perish…”.
One must have a mission, vision, goal or plan to lead a focused, productive and fulfilled life.
At Southern UC, we have great aspiration; we aspire to attain national and, ultimately, international renowned status as the prominent academic institution in the southern region of West Malaysia. As a young University College, we need to persevere and align all our efforts towards our hope of achieving a full-fledged University status in the near future.
As an institution funded by the local Chinese community, we owe it to our past generations of donors who had entrusted us with this establishment. We are accountable for the future of the University College and its directions in pursuing excellent academic expectations of, and for, the Community.
As your appointed President, I appeal to you to join me in one accord in ensuring that the mission and vision, conceived by our predecessors, are embraced, and all efforts are aligned to achieve the noble aspiration that has been set before us: become a university by 2021.
To guide us to our destination, we must have clearer insight of what we aim to achieve. So, what makes an excellent or world-class University? I would like to share with you my thought on criteria of an excellent, world-class University.
My notion was derived from three different examples of assessments, namely The Times Good Universities Guide, Financial Time Ranking for UK Universities and Asia’s Best Universities Overall Ranking over past few years. It was found that university assessments done in different continents adopted different approaches and did not have the same inclusion of all factors in deciding the ranking of universities. However, it was established that highly ranked universities portrayed some similar traits of excellence. The seven factors (which may not be exhaustive) that have been identified are as follows:
i) Competitive undergraduate programs / courses
ii) Competitive Postgraduate Programs (Master’s & PhD)
iii) Output of high employability of graduates & postgraduates
iv) Highly qualified academic staff
v) Ingenious Research activities / publication of journals
vi) Advanced research facilities / infrastructure
vii) Visiting scholars / prominent scientists
These factors can be broadly grouped into three main categories:
Academic/ Curriculum Development
Undergraduate & Postgraduate Programs / Courses
• The current trends of universities are gearing towards multidisciplinary curriculum development, e.g. fusion of computer programming and chemistry, computer and biology, has led to many novel discoveries in their respective fields. There is no doubt that a university that embraces multidisciplinary teaching and research would be the leader in the years to come.
• Comprehensive reviewing of the curriculums offered by a university should be done yearly to generate graduates and postgraduates that meet the demands of the job market.
• Competitive undergraduate & postgraduate programs contribute towards the status or academic standing of the university in the academic community. The quality of teaching and learning were assessed, and it was found to be one of the main factors included in all the three different assessments mentioned.
• Employability of graduates & postgraduates reflects on the reputation of a university in the competitive job market community. High percentage of graduates either pursuing professional training or postgraduate degrees were used to assess the quality of the said universities.
• A highly reputable university would attract prominent and well-qualified academic staff.
• These prominent scholars can in turn contribute their expertise as visiting scholars in giving lectures and conducting research.
• On-going training and upgrading of academic staff would continue to ensure high quality of teaching and research activities within the university.
• A world-class university usually boasts of its advanced facilities in information technology and instrumental facilities. (e.g. it was expressed in terms of spending of the universities per staff).
• It has to be teaching-focused as well as research-focused.
• It needs to continue to upgrade itself in all the advanced facilities available to ensure high quality research and publication of papers can be done swiftly and efficiently.
• On-going strategic collaborations/ affiliation with universities or industrial entities would boost the research activities. The talk of having entrepreneurship or techno-preneurship within an educational institution is rapidly gaining the attention of government and universities as the world enters into globalized knowledge sharing.
Self-reflection is important as we can gauge how far we have to travel to reach our destination. Perseverance is the key, and we shall work within the resources that we have to plod on the journey to excellence.
Dear Southern UC Community, let us work together in this exciting and challenging journey as we strive to become a full-fledged university by 2021.
One Vision, One Heart: A Journey to Excellence - 44th Anniversary Celebration
By Prof Dr Teh Geok Bee, November 2019
By the end of November, it will have been eight months since l have taken office as the President of Southern University College. It has been an exciting and challenging time where l have implemented many administrative and academic changes. I would like to thank all the staff for giving me their undivided support in the changes that l have implemented.
I would like to take this opportunity, as Southern University College celebrates its 44th anniversary, to put forth my thoughts on the future plans of the university college for 2020 as we prepare for upgrading to a full-fledged University. In 2020, we are going to focus our efforts on four focal points.
Focal Point 1: Upgrading Facilities
We will upgrade our computer laboratories to ensure that we can train our students effectively in the latest software programming and position our graduates as competent software programmer and developers in the challenging marketplace. Industrial partners will be sought for collaboration and funding to ensure the training that we provide is industrially relevant and able to cater to the needs of the marketplace.
Focal point 2: International Programme Validation and Recognition
A selection of our matured and accredited programs will be put forth to our international partner universities and collaborators for international validation and recognition. This will be a value added entity for our programs and these international validation recognitions will ensure that our programs are competitive and internationally relevant so that our graduates are on par with their peers at the international marketplace.
Focal point 3: Engaging the Local Communities
With the setting up of our new broadcasting facility of the Southern News Media Centre, we can engage in more communal activities that will promote Southern University College in state of Johor, and, also, issues that are of current concern with local communities. We shall do our part as the voice of local society in the common marketplace.
Focal Point 4: The Concept of “Foon Yew Village”
Not forgetting the history of Southern University College, we will continue to work with local Chinese Independent Schools and assist them in training their students and teachers. We would be the partner to the local Chinese Communities to ensure the continuation of the ideology of the Founders of Southern University College who had set up this institution in 1970s.
2020 will be an exciting year for Southern University College, with One Vision One Heart, together we are going to embark on this journey to excellence. Together we can!
Academy of Sciences Malaysia Fellowship 2021: A Tribute to My Life Mentors
By Prof ChM Dr Teh Geok Bee, FASc
I was elated when I received the news that my nomination and appointment as the Fellow of Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM) was approved at its 26th Annual General Meeting on 24th April 2021. If one were to fully understand what ASM stands for, one would have realised that this appointment is the pinnacle in a career of a scholar in Malaysia. I am very much delighted and honoured to be recommended and appointed, and to be included into a scientific professional body which encompasses the elite of professionals and thought leaders of our nation.
Academy of Sciences Malaysia (Akademi Sains Malaysia, ASM) was instituted under the ASM Act 1994 and was gazetted under His Majesty’s Government in 1995. The President of ASM is appointed by the Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the recommendation of the Minister, whose recommendation is made after the Minister has consulted the ASM Council. ASM serves as the thought leader in matters relating to science, technology and innovation and on many occasions serves as the advisor to the Government on matters related to STI of national and international importance.
In year 2020, there were a total of 376 Fellows and out of which 71 (19%) are female Fellows. By now, you would have probably understood what this appointment really meant to me. I feel as though I am at the pinnacle of my career, and yet I have a tingling of feeling that I am yet to have fully arrived. That feeling of paradox is real for many female academics who are trying their best to play their roles in the fields that they have ventured into.
I would want to take this wonderful occasion to acknowledge three female role models who have played significant roles along my journey. First and foremost is my mother. My mother who single-handedly raised five children has shown that diligence and hard work will pay in the long run. She has taught me perseverance and never giving up hope in our pursuit for excellence and happiness.
The second role model in my life is Tan Sri Datuk Dr Ng Lay Swee, the founding president of UTAR. I was privileged to have worked and learnt from her. I have learnt from her principled, no-nonsense, and yet friendly demeanour leadership style in managing an educational institution. She is retired from her position and on a few occasions, we were able to meet up during festivities or shared latest updates over the phone. I cherish the privilege to call her a mentor and a friend.
The third role model in my life is Academician Prof Datuk Dr Halimaton Hamdan. She is someone who needs no introduction as any attempt to do so would not do justice to her long and well-recognised achievements. A long string of accolades accompanies “Prof Hali”, a name many would fondly use to address her. Similarly, Prof Hali has a very principled and no-nonsense approach in all matters, and I am privileged to have learnt from her when I was a committee member in the Taskforce Working Group of the National Nanotechnology Directorate from 2011-2017.
Both Tan Sri Ng and Prof Hali consistently gave opportunities to young academics to challenge themselves and generously availed to many their precious time in guiding and mentoring young academics. Being one of the privileged few I am truly grateful and thankful for their mentorship and friendship.
I shall save for another day to share the story about male role models in my life. I have much more to do because now the bar is set even higher. I now shoulder the responsibility to live up to the expectation and to continue to serve the community as one of the Fellows of Academy of Sciences Malaysia.
Wish me courage, wisdom and strength, as I need them all!
Prof Dr Teh and her mother, Madam Lau Tik Hua.
Tan Sri Datuk Dr Ng Lay Swee and husband, Prof Dr Lim Tiong Koon at TARUC campus beside the plague commemorating her contribution as one of the founding leaders during the 50th celebration of TARUC establishment.
Academician Prof Datuk Dr Halimaton Hamdan FASc and husband, Prof Mohd Nazlan Mohd Muhid.
A Bountiful Deed
Our Great Aspiration
One Vision, One Heart (2019)
A Tribute to My Life Mentors
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