Opening Academic Year (2011-2012): Remarks of Dr. Bui Tran Phuong

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests, professors, lecturers, staff, Hoa Sen students, and especially the 2,150 freshmen in the Class of 2011-2012  with 1,408 students in the Bachelor’s programs, 742 students in the Associate’s programs who have honoured us with your presence today to celebrate the opening of Hoa Sen University’s 20th academic year.

On behalf of Hoa Sen academic staff and students, I warmly welcome the presence of representatives from diplomatic delegations, academic institution and industry partners, alumni and friends to share in this meaningful opening day with our teaching staff and students.

The 2011-2012 academic year is the first year of the third decade in Hoa Sen’s history. After 20 years of development, we now face an important moment. The University has announced its strategic plan from now unto 2020. The first year of the third decade will establish the foundation for the new phase of development.

20 years ago, when Hoa Sen was first established, we began to experience a new model of higher education with the following characteristics: full financial autonomy; valuing real quality based on transparent criteria, both quantitative and qualitative; industry relevant curriculum; enhanced international cooperation, taking internationally recognized standards to measure education quality; and the rate of employment for graduates as a key measure of the effectiveness of Hoa Sen’s service to society.

Five years ago, when Hoa Sen became a private university, we were faced with many challenges and wondered whether we had enough to build a true university with extremely modest financial means and with human resources lacking and weak, under such conditions generally throughout the nation, chronic deviations of behavior so common as to become "normal" in society, and with sprawling contradictions and paradoxes? Twenty years of stable development and the ability to self-finance without the benefit of state funds, five years to affirm the core values of a university in accord with modern times has provided an initial clear answer. 

We still face countless difficulties; the road ahead still full of challenges. But, we have demonstrated what is possible. We not only take advantage of mobilized human resources from domestic and international sources, but have also turned those resources into a distinct value, unique, consistent with the choices of the Hoa Sen University community, and of each individual among us. As the lotus lives in the mud, drawing its existence from an environment not entirely favorable, it asserts itself through vibrant colors, and a fragrance not to be confused with any other flower. There are still many things left to do, many obstacles to overcome, many changes to implement, including within each of us. But we have proven, first to ourselves: building a proper Vietnamese university, is something that is possible.

Dear honored guests, allow me to focus the remainder of this speech on our students, and especially all the freshman of the class of 2011-2012. 

You have just passed an important exam in your life to enter Hoa Sen University. That exam was not just about Math, Physics, Chemistry, Literature and English. It was also about a crucial choice in your life, not always easy at times, but you maintained good work ethics and the energy to consistently follow through with your choices, especially under the admissions requirements in this "turbulent" year. I choose wisely my praise and thanks to your parents and to you, Hoa Sen’s new students, for placing your solid trust in the prestige and integrity of the academic staff of Hoa Sen University! 

It must be said that the years spent in university halls have important implications in our lives. This is our time to learn, experience and strengthen the strong foundation of knowledge, critical thinking, a willing and able personality, confidence to go into the world, to make yourself anew, establish a career and contribute your heart and mind to the building of family, nation and society. You, the freshmen class, have to take note of the characteristics of Hoa Sen University’s philosophy and educational methods to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the University. You have already been initially introduced to this in week zero; I do hope you continue to learn to make your months and years at Hoa Sen University into a truly unique experience, bright, exciting and effective.

We treat students as mature individuals with full rights and obligations of citizens of an independent and sovereign nation. Students have autonomy and responsibility for your own learning, research and training to implement projects in your professions, of personal ambitions, and have a duty to voluntarily abide by the laws, and by regulations in your profession and of the University. From this academic year on, apart from listening to student feedback on the effectiveness of lectures which we have done for many years, the University will continue to innovate to further promote the contributions of each member of the Hoa Sen community. Within this are numerous students who participated in developing University governance mechanisms, the continuance of delegating authority and responsibility to the campus level, to each employee, encourage constructive criticism, innovation, improvements and greater accountability from every individual and unit in the University.

We specifically call for the participation of students and alumni on two projects. 

First is the “Green University” project led by Professor Bui Xuan An. Green University is an environmentally-friendly university focused on sustainable development. Of course, there are issues related to using energy rationally and economically; but it is not only that. Green University has been linked to democratic management, to the social responsibility of universities to the community, to the development of each member of the University in line with sustainable development of society. I hope students proactively learn about and participate in this very important project because no one is better conditioned than the young, a young class of well-educated and dedicated students, to protect your university so it remains green, and for the sustainable development of society. 

The contents of the second project more directly relates to you. In the past 20 years, Hoa Sen has consistently pioneered and publicized the rates of employment for graduates during the graduation ceremony. Recently, we publicize starting salaries of graduates in each profession. This shows how the University is accountable to the public, including students and employers. That is the nature of quantitative results, the numbers speak for themselves. From this year forward, we want more qualitative information, and not just only graduation results, but the whole process: from when you started to become students of Hoa Sen University, and not stopping at the time of graduation, but continuing on and collaborating and working with alumni in new relationships and partnerships. We call the project: “Drawing Profiles of Hoa Sen University Students”. Drawing, but not "draw" meaning a "lie", in the way that this word has morphed; it is not imagining or fantasizing. We try to draw out the essence, the true spirit of Hoa Sen. I urge all students and alumni to participate with self-descriptive, analytical portraits of yourselves in many different forms, from speaking and commenting, to writing editorials to recording with paintings, photographs, video clips, short films, etc. We also are interested in receiving feedback from the larger community about Hoa Sen students and alumni.

Dear students, we always believe in young Vietnamese citizens like you, trained to possess a foundation of knowledge, ethics and modern human capacities; the 8X, 9X generations are dynamic, filled with rich and ambitious dreams, enthusiastic, willing to acquire new knowledge, new experiences, new technologies to improve yourselves. We are always interested in listening to your thoughts and aspirations to renew modes of teaching and management methods, paying special attention to the activities of the Office of Student Support Services, where you can find answers to questions about the University’s academics; also where you can participate in extracurricular activities such as cultural exchanges with international students, short-term training on soft skills, internship placements, extra work, and professional development to prepare a strong portfolio for going out into the world.

You have selected Hoa Sen University. This choice may be for many different reasons, but whatever the reason, trust and believe in yourself, in Hoa Sen University, in us. We will always be with you firmly on the path of learning and research. I want to emphasize: Hoa Sen University will continue to be the right choice of more and more students because at this very place, your talent and future are always a concern for us, to discover, nurture and develop further.

This academic year, the first of the third decade, also the first year of courses taught entirely in English for third year students in the majors of Finance, Accounting, Business Administration and Hospitality and Restaurant Management. The General Education program added a subject taught in English to diversify options for students of all fields. Affiliate programs with Université Paris Est Creteil (UPEC), with Mod'Art International (France) are continuing to develop; whereas the programs with The Manchester College (UK), Ecole Hoteliere Vatel have just begun. The most important thing is, in all educational activities, scientific research and community service of more than 400 faculty, staff and more than 9,100 full-time students, not counting part-time, we restore, develop and launch more innovative features that make up the Hoa Sen culture. In particular, the focus is to continue to internationalize the University from philosophy and educational methods to staff and students such that Hoa Sen remains a Vietnamese university, but strong enough to compete, cooperate within the global higher education.

That means that we, at all levels of management, faculty, staff at the University and especially students need to strengthen and use English in general. We need to communicate better in a foreign language to work, teach, learn and in all activities, and interactions with Hoa Sen University staff members from other countries who do not and cannot speak Vietnamese. We have been encouraging and will continually expand opportunities for more managers, professors, faculty, staff and international students to participate in teaching, learning, academic activities, short- or long-term scientific research at our University. Faculty and students of Hoa Sen University will continue to benefit from opportunities to intern, exchange and study in other countries. But even in the work environment and in daily life in Vietnam, foreign languages are indispensable tools.

However, internationalization of a university is not only to strengthen language skills. It is also learning, understanding and tolerance of multicultural, intercultural, so that people from any culture can live and work in comfort and efficiency in our University. It is also about learning from each other, to respect differences, to experience each of us on more abundant terms, so that we understand and adapt to any changes in modern life, learning from others, and always self-confident without imposing their own standards or values upon anyone else.

The spirit that we want to emphasize in this academic year is: Effective communication, Friendly environment.

“Effective communication, Friendly environment”, also means to strengthen cooperation, exchange and information sharing inside and outside Hoa Sen University. This means that, when integrated into the University, we will understand each other better, and together implement the cultural values of Hoa Sen. This is an open culture, a friendly learning and working environment with harmonious and effective coordination between the Faculties, Departments, Units, Centers, between activities for teaching, learning, scientific research and community service, giving all members of the University an exciting and more rewarding experience. At the same time, students are called to positively contribute ideas, build the university and with previous generations continue to honor Hoa Sen University. The 20th Anniversary of the establishment of Hoa Sen is closely upon us. This is a journey not too long in the history of a university, but 20 years has accumulated ideals, ambitions and enthusiasms of several generations of faculty and students working together to build a university in Vietnam towards international standards, provide learning opportunities in the best ways possible for the young people of Vietnam! So grateful for those successful efforts, let's make this academic year really special and meaningful!