This April, fresh with the promise of spring and the warmth of sunlight, we celebrate the 105th anniversary of Tsinghua University. On behalf of the Tsinghua community, I would like to extend my warmhearted greetings to all Tsinghua alumni, students, faculty, and staff. I also want to express our sincere gratitude to our friends around the world for their continuous support. This is a special occasion that we all celebrate and cherish.
As the final year of China’s 12th Five-Year Plan, 2015 has seen Tsinghua push forward comprehensive reforms. We have accomplished major achievements in all aspects, including education, research, social responsibility and outreach into the community.
Decisive progress has been made in reforming our tenure system. The reform started several years ago and has gained wide support from students, faculty, and staff, with 38 schools and departments adopting the new system. As a critical component of the comprehensive reforms, the tenure system reform will enable us to compete with elite universities around the world for attracting top talents, providing opportunities for their career development, and creating an environment that encourages both research and education.
There has been continuous innovation in teaching and learning. The traditional 100 point-based grading system has been transformed to a system of letter grades. A Teaching Committee has been established to advance education innovation and enhance the learning experience of our students. In particular, much effort has been devoted to education in innovation and entrepreneurship. The student supercomputing team has won the top prizes in all the three leading international supercomputing contests in a year. We initiated the Chinese Higher Education Alliance of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and created a minor degree program in technology innovation and entrepreneurship that involve multiple schools and departments. Emphasis has been put on liberal education as well. Starting in 2015, a book is presented to every freshman as part of a common reading program.
We have also undertaken a reform of our research system. The 17th Working Conference on Scientific Research convened last year generated valuable proposals on strengthening the university’s role in research. It marks the official start of the university’s reform of research system. The establishment of the Interdisciplinary Degree Committee has promoted interdisciplinary cooperation and allowed professors to hold joint positions in other schools and departments. Directed towards the strategic needs of our nation, our major research projects include high temperature gas-cooled reactors, gas turbines, next generation Internet, translational medicines, and earth system numerical simulator. The establishment of the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences marks a significant step towards a comprehensive development of life sciences and medicine. On engineering, where our long-time strengths are located, we initiated the Great Wall Conference on Engineering and Technology and founded the China Engineering and Technology Innovation Alliance to advocate a real impact on society in general. The creation of the Humanities at Tsinghua lecture series promotes an increased presence of arts, humanities and social sciences on the campus.
The past year has seen a rise in our competitiveness and influence in various disciplines. In 2015, our faculty won 19 National Science and Technology Awards, and five first-place prizes in social sciences and humanities at the 7th National Higher Education Outstanding Research Awards. Tsinghua’s research accomplishments have also been highlighted numerous times, including the successful completion of a radiation experiment in a high temperature gas-cooled reactor demonstration project, named as one of the top 10 advances in Chinese nuclear technology, and the high resolution three-dimensional structure of a yeast spliceosome, named as one of the top 10 science and technology advances achieved by Chinese universities. Three experimental satellites developed by Tsinghua were successfully launched, the Center for China Studies was selected to be developed into one of the key national think-tanks, and the Milan World Expo China Pavilion designed by faculty members of the Academy of Arts and Design was widely praised. Professor Ge Fei from the School of Humanities was awarded the 9th Mao Dun Literature Prize.
Tsinghua has taken a key step in globalization strategy. The university’s very first globalization strategy was developed in the past year, aimed at making Tsinghua one of the global centers in research, education, and collaboration. We welcomed Tsinghua-UC Berkeley Shenzhen Institute’s first class of doctoral students and completed the recruitment of the inaugural class of Schwarzman Scholars. In June 2015, the Global Innovation Exchange (GIX) Institute was jointly launched by Tsinghua and the University of Washington in Seattle, with founding support from Microsoft. It is the first time a Chinese university has established a physical presence in the United States. In September, the President of China, Xi Jinping, presented the gift of a metasequoia and conveyed his blessing to GIX for its future success.
2016 marks the beginning of China’s 13th Five-Year Plan. It is also a critical time for our efforts toward the goal of becoming a world first-class university. We will continue to push forward Tsinghua’s comprehensive reforms, including the reform of staff personnel system based on the successful experience of tenure system reform. We will also strive to engage all members of the community to further strengthen our research, education, and service.
At the horizon of this new beginning, with new goals, mandates, and aspirations, I believe that more achievements will be accomplished with a spirit of persistence and devotion. I am also confident that with the joint efforts of Tsinghua community, our university will become more innovative, more internationalized, and more humanity-oriented. We will step into our 106th year with determination, deliberation and confidence, embracing the future in all its challenges and opportunities.