01.07.2015
Hoa Sen University 26th Commencement Keynote Speech by Dr Bui Tran Phuong

Ladies and gentlemen, graduates of Hoa Sen University,

First of all, Congratulations to the Hoa Sen students who are present today, who this event is dedicated to!

This commencement ceremony is for more than 500 men and women of Hoa Sen University of whom 66 will graduate with merit and with distinction. I would like us to give a big applause to all of them.

Thank you.

Dear Hoa Sen University graduates,

You are about to walk out of this theater hall to start your career in a very difficult time of our history.  The university statistics of this year shows that for every one hundred of you standing in the theater, 80 already found jobs and will return to work on Monday.

In my regular speech addressing the university graduates, I would like to talk about two seemingly not related items. Both are relevant to the mission and vision of the university, and to the core values that the university has embraced since its establishment in 1991. The not for profit mindset and the threat from China.

First, let me explain to you what not for profit means. Legally speaking, a not- for- profit (or non-profit) organization uses its surplus revenue to achieve its purpose instead of redistributing it in the form of dividends or profits. The designation of an organization as a non-profit does not mean that it does not intend to seek profit from its activities or services. And different countries may have laws that restrict the extent to which a not for profit organization can use its surplus revenue.  As mandated by the Vietnamese 2012 higher education law and the decree with reference to not- for- profit universities, there is a cap on appropriation of the surplus money for dividends. And most of the money must be put into education, which has always been and will always be the primary objective of Hoa Sen University now and in the future.

The not for profit mindset, however, is different. In your education, you may have heard of entrepreneurial mindset, or the necessary aggressiveness to enter the corporate world. You may have learned different skills to improve your advantages in the competition for better jobs and social standing. The not for profit mindset is how you view the world differently, consisting of you and other people not as competitors but rather collaborators to make it the better place for everyone. The not for profit mindset, or in other words the sense of community or civic responsibility, is the drive that makes you contribute money to a charity, help an senior citizen to cross a busy street, yield to pedestrians while riding on motorized vehicles, and work for a nonprofit organization such as Disability Research and Capacity Development Center. You may ask if it would be best of your interest to serve the community eight hours a day and five days a week. My recommendation for you is that you do not have to do so. Some Hoa Sen graduates did choose to do so and some will do. However, you can still choose to work in the private sector and donating your knowledge, time and money to projects that help others than yourself and your close ones.  The most important thing is that you should have the mindset which launches you forward in the job market and the one which enables and asks you to have social impacts.

Here is the implication for you and for Hoa Sen University. As a Hoa Sen graduate, I would urge that you will follow the university and do your part to ensure Hoa Sen continues to reinvest most if not all of its surplus revenue in education and community engagement. I would urge that you continue doing what you did, that is raising tough questions to the university administration of how tuition fees are used and how the university’s core values are preserved and promoted. And I would also urge that you, like other alumni, maintain connection with us have a real impact on the future of the university.

Hoa Sen graduates!

One year ago, China towed a giant oil rig to waters belonging to Vietnam and warned that it could return. Now China is strengthening its position on the reefs which it took from Vietnam by force. China now has placed military equipment on the built structures located on the reefs, disturbing normal maritime traffic and posing a clear and imminent danger to Vietnam. I am not going to repeat what you may read from the media. I learned that another fisherman was killed and several injured. As Vietnamese citizens, you should know about this incident, have an attitude toward it and should adopt an appropriate action.  Regardless of your future career, you will always think of your countrymen and the fate of this country and want to do something for it.

Finally, please drive safely, be careful with Chinese additives in Vietnamese food and demonstrate yourself as an educated, compassionate, and professional person.

On the behalf of all of my colleagues, I wish you the best.

Dr. Bui Tran Phuong

LOTUS COMMUNITY