This April, in the warm season brimming with vigor and vitality, we celebrate the 106th anniversary of Tsinghua University. On behalf of Tsinghua, I would like to extend my cordial greetings and best wishes to our students, faculty and staff, as well as all Tsinghua alumni at home and abroad. I also offer my heartfelt gratitude to all friends for their unfailing support to Tsinghua over the years.
One year ago, as we celebrated the 105th anniversary, CPC General Secretary Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory letter to Tsinghua, his alma mater. He praised Tsinghua for its fine traditions and outstanding accomplishments in its proud history of over 100 years, and encouraged Tsinghua to stay true to its mission and foster great virtues in our students. Tsinghua, as he said, should move forward with an unwavering commitment to the nation and embrace reform and innovation. Proud and confident, Tsinghua should keep its distinctive features as it reaches out to the world and cultivate talents with a diverse variety of skills that meet the needs of our country and people. General Secretary Xi also called on Tsinghua to be part of China’s innovation-driven development and become a pacesetter as it grows to be a world-class institution of higher education. His message represents a tremendous source of inspiration and encouragement to the Tsinghua community as we continue to go forward.
Over the past year, with the concerted efforts of our faculty, staff and students, Tsinghua has carried out comprehensive reform across the board. We have accelerated the progress towards a world-class university with distinctive Chinese features, striving to become more innovative, more international and more humanity-oriented.
To become more innovative, we have given high priority to cultivating innovative talents and strived to produce cutting-edge research achievements. In so doing, we, as always, have remained ahead of the curve in innovative education. We have reformed the discipline categorization for the undergraduate admission purpose in order to facilitate general discipline education. The 49 original disciplines are consolidated into 16 for admitted students to study in the first two years, so the boundary of each discipline is broadened. By strengthening liberal education, we aim to open up more possibilities of fostering innovative talents. We have reformed the way in which doctoral candidates are admitted by adopting an “application-assessment” scheme to select candidates that have keen academic pursuits and impressive potential for academic excellence. We launched the “Open Office Hour”, which brings teachers and students closely together. Such advising sessions help generate new ideas and sparks of wisdom. We set up a “Lecture Room” for tenure-track professors. The idea is to allow the top professors to demonstrate their exceptional academic credentials. That is part of our efforts to promote exchanges across disciplines and fields of study. We started the reform of the management system for scientific research, with a focus on cross-discipline research, integration of defense and civilian technologies, cutting-edge research and the commercialization of technological advances. In so doing, we strive to create an innovation-friendly academic ecosystem.
Smooth progress has been made in building the first demonstration nuclear power station for commercial use, which features a high-temperature gas-cooled reactor. With that, we continue to be a world leader in nuclear power technology. We have mobilized sufficient resources for a variety of frontier research areas including quantum computing, brain-like computing, interface-induced high-temperature superconductivity and the next-generation internet. Professor Yang Zhixing’s team was awarded the nation’s first prize for scientific and technological advances. Three research results of our professors were listed among 2016 Top Ten Scientific and Technological Progress of China's Colleges and Universities. The decimal multiplication table discovered by Tsinghua Unearthed Research and Protection Center has been identified as the world’s earliest. Professor Xue Qikun, a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), received the Future Science Prize, which was presented for the very first time. Professor Shi Yigong, a CAS member, was awarded the 2016 Prize for Scientific and Technological Achievements of Ho Leung Ho Lee Foundation. Professor Qian Yingyi from the School of Economics and Management was awarded the 2016 China Economics Prize.
To become more international, we have pursued deeper international cooperation in all areas to help our students gain international perspectives and better connect China to the world. As we launch and implement the global strategy, we have improved our capability to run international programs and our global profile. On September 10, 2016, Schwarzman Scholars officially opened its inaugural class. On that occasion, President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Barack Obama sent their messages of congratulations.
The Global Innovation Exchange (GIX) Institute, a partnership between Tsinghua, the University of Washington in Seattle and Microsoft Corporation, welcomed the first group of students. Tsinghua entered into a comprehensive partnership with the University of Geneva (UNIGE) in Switzerland. Together, we will establish a research center on Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), and have set up a base where we train and prepare Chinese students for internships and employment opportunities at international organizations in Geneva. We have also entered into a strategic partnership with Politecnico di Milano, with whom the China-Italy Design Innovation Hub will be created. We have launched Tsinghua University Shenzhen Global Campus (TUSGC), a move to elevate Tsinghua’s capabilities in cutting-edge innovation, international cooperation and cultivation of high-caliber talents.
Tsinghua has assisted students in participating in international academic and cultural exchange programs. 2016 witnessed another record high in the number of our students who traveled abroad on study tours. For the first time, we implemented the Tsinghua Global South Culture Immersion Series. We have made robust efforts to develop Ph.D. programs on developing-world research and encourage our students to take part in field studies in Africa, Europe and the Middle East. We proposed to create the Asian Universities Alliance (AUA) to shape the future landscape of Asia’s higher education and address regional and global challenges. Tsinghua’s initiative has caught on among 15 prestigious universities across Asia, including the University of Tokyo and the National University of Singapore. The AUA will be officially inaugurated at Tsinghua University on April 29 this year.
To become more humanity-oriented, we have strived to further enrich our credentials in humanities. To improve our students’ literacy in humanities, we have worked to create synergies between liberal arts and science programs. We aim to nurture more well-rounded graduates who can truly live up to their mission in the future. Since its inception more than 1 year ago, the Humanities at Tsinghua Lecture Series has offered 8 lectures. Among the renowned scholars at Tsinghua who have shared their insights under the lecture series were Ge Fei, a literary giant, Chen Lai, a veteran researcher on China studies, Li Qiang, a sociologist, Wan Junren, an ethicist, Peng Lin, a historian, Wang Hui, a historian of thought, and Yan Xuetong, an authority on international relations. These endeavors have stimulated widespread interest in humanities on the campus and beyond.
On September 10, 2016, the Art Museum was officially inaugurated, in a move to foster fusion between art and science. The facility serves to display the beauty of art and science alike. A new chapter has been opened in Tsinghua’s efforts to embrace humanities and art subjects. We have worked hard to encourage reading on campus. For two years in a row, a book has been presented to every freshman as part of a common reading program. A recommended Tsinghua reading list has also been released. Our goal is to create a tranquil campus environment that is ideal for reading and learning.
By successfully hosting the 5th World Peace Forum, we have steadily enhanced our international profile. Spring Breeze, Professor Ge Fei’s novel, was rated the novel of the year by Dangdai Bimonthly, a literature magazine. On March 30 this year, we convened another work conference dedicated to liberal arts 15 years after the last such event took place. We have prioritized the need to improve the quality of our basic liberal arts programs and sharpen our edge in applied liberal arts subjects.
All in all, the past year was another fruitful year for Tsinghua. On March 16 this year, Tsinghua University convened its first faculty and staff congress since 2011. The congress built up consensus and instilled greater confidence in our faculty and staff members. Together, we are taking solid steps to open up new prospects in Tsinghua’s second century. I am convinced that with the joint efforts of our university community, Tsinghua will embrace an even brighter future.