Ir. Professor Dato’ Ewe Hong Tat - His philosophy on education and life & his aspirations for UTAR
In a recent interview with STUDYMALAYSIA, Professor Ewe shares with us his philosophy of education - the nature of education as well as its aims and problems and what he hopes to achieve as the CEO of UTAR.
1. His roles and responsibilities as the President/CEO of UTAR.
As the CEO of UTAR (Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman), he has to ensure its sustainability as it is a private university and is not supported by the government operationally. This involves managing costs, student admissions, staff recruitment, maintenance of facilities and equipment, and ensuring the quality of programmes offered. All of these responsibilities work together to ensure the university's success. Additionally, he must set a clear direction for the university's future and ensure that it continues to progress in that direction.
He understands that being the President of a university comes with heavy responsibilities as universities play a major role in talent development, research and development, teaching, collaboration with industry, and contributing to society as a whole. Being in such a position demands for significant responsibilities, but it is also highly rewarding and fulfilling to be able to make a positive impact on society.
It is precisely due to these reasons that he took up the position of CEO of UTAR because it is a comprehensive university that offers a wide range of programmes and courses. This presented more challenges, but it also allowed him to see how the university could help more students. Over time, programmes such as Medicine have been added and UTAR is now even setting up its own teaching hospital. These new challenges are very meaningful because being able to train talents in the area of healthcare is something that can benefit the community and support the government's efforts.
2. His Management Style
Prof. Ewe is one who believes in team efforts. He places importance on the need to engage experts in various areas in discussions and interactions. His belief is that by tapping into the expertise of others, only then can we come up with better solutions. He prioritises working together towards a common goal and moving forward as a team. As UTAR is a not-for-profit university, it is important to look beyond high employability rates and focus on educating students to become holistic individuals who can appreciate life and make a positive impact on society. This may take time and require overcoming challenges, but it is crucial to inspire students to realise what is important in life.
As for decision-making, he is open-minded and will deliberate on various perspectives and avenues before making a final decision. He is willing to take calculated risks when necessary and is adaptable to change. He feels it is important to maintain a balance between innovation and practicality. His management style can be summed up as collaboration, innovation, and holistic education for students.
3. Criteria to be a successful CEO/President of a University
As a former educator, Prof. Ewe believes that successful presidents of a university must possess several important qualities.
Firstly, they must have a strong vision and the ability to inspire their staff and students to work towards a common goal. They must be able to communicate this vision effectively and provide the necessary resources to achieve it.
Secondly, they must possess excellent leadership skills, including the ability to delegate tasks, manage resources effectively, and make tough decisions when necessary. They must also be able to create a positive and supportive working environment that fosters creativity, innovation, and growth.
Thirdly, successful university presidents must be passionate about education and committed to ensuring that their institution provides high-quality teaching, research, and service to the community. They must be willing to adapt to changes in the field and embrace new technologies and ideas to stay ahead of the curve.
Lastly, successful presidents must be able to collaborate effectively with others, including faculty, staff, students, alumni, and the wider community. They must be open-minded, empathetic, and willing to listen to feedback and suggestions from others.
Overall, the criteria for a successful university president are diverse and multifaceted. It takes a unique blend of skills, experience, and personal qualities to lead an institution of higher learning to success.
4. Guiding Principles for a Happy Life
Prof. Ewe’s take for a happy life is to focus on the present. When you focus on the present, you can do your tasks better and have a more peaceful mind. A research done by two Harvard professors showed that people with wandering minds are not happy. Mindful focus is essential.
Another principle is to appreciate what we have. Sometimes, we may compare ourselves to others and feel like we lack things in our lives. However, if we learn to appreciate what we have, we can see the world differently. For example, we can still walk, eat, sleep, have our own family, which are all blessings that we should be thankful for. When we cultivate a mindset of gratitude, we naturally become happier.
There are bound to be ups and downs in life, but he believes that with these guiding principles, we can achieve a more peaceful mind and enjoy life to the fullest.
5. Significant Contributions and what legacy he hopes to leave behind.
According to Prof. Ewe, the contributions he has made so far are driven by his passion for education and the desire to make a positive impact on others. He is unable to recall all of his contributions except that he has always done whatever he can to help develop and support others. He is proud to have played a role in creating a learning environment that fosters growth and innovation. He feels fortunate to have had the opportunity to collaborate with talented individuals and teams to achieve common goals. Despite facing challenges, he is confident that with sustained effort, we can continue to overcome obstacles and make meaningful contributions to society.
He has never really thought about what he wants to be remembered for, as the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that life is unpredictable and uncertain. However, he hopes to be remembered for the impact he has made on the lives of the people he has worked with and the students he has mentored.
- he has inspired them to pursue their passions and to always strive for excellence,
- he has contributed to the development of the university and its community, and that his efforts have made a positive difference in their lives,
- that the collective impact of his and his team’s actions is what truly matters and together they have contributed in some way to making the world a better place.
Brief Profile of Ir. Professor Dato’ Ewe Hong Tat
Ir. Professor Dato’ Dr Ewe Hong Tat, the current President/CEO of Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR), comes from an impressive academic and professional background. He holds a Bachelor of Engineering (1st Class Hons) degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Malaya, a Masters of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from M.I.T., USA, and a PhD degree from Multimedia University, Malaysia.
Throughout his career, Professor Ewe has held various positions in renowned organisations such as Motorola Penang, Intel Penang, MIT’s Research Laboratory for Electronics, University of Malaya, and Multimedia University (MMU). At MMU, he served as the Vice President (Academic) and later at UTAR as the Senior Professor of Lee Kong Chian Faculty of Engineering and Science and the Vice President (Internationalisation and Academic Development) before his appointment as the President/CEO of UTAR.
Professor Ewe has been bestowed with several prestigious awards for his academic leadership and accomplishments. He received The Young Scientist Award of URSI (International Union of Radio Science) in 1996, The Outstanding Young Malaysian Award in 2005, and The Toray Science and Technology Award by Malaysian Toray Science Foundation in 2011. He is also an Educational Counsellor and Regional Chair (Malaysia) of MIT Educational Council, Fellow and President of ASEAN Academy of Engineering and Technology (AAET), Fellow of Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM), former Council Member of Malaysia Qualifications Agency (MQA, 2013-2018), Advisory Judge of Asia Pacific ICT Alliance Awards, and former President of MIT Club of Malaysia.
Apart from his impressive academic and professional achievements, Professor Ewe has also made significant contributions in the field of research. His works have been published in books, international journals, conferences, and newspaper columns covering research interests involving microwave remote sensing, satellite image processing, wireless sensor networks, and intelligent computing. In addition, Professor Ewe has been actively involved in consultancy and technopreneur development, providing advisory services to several listed and start-up companies in Malaysia.
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