Meeting the Technological Challenges of the New Century

17 May 2001

It’s a great pleasure to be here today. Today is a very important day for Shantou University as we extend our warmest welcome to Mr. Li Hongzhong, the Vice Governor of Guangdong as the new Chairman of our Board of Governors. Shantou University will benefit tremendously from Vice Governor Li’s enthusiastic support and valuable advice. I also want to welcome Mr. Li Tongshu, Secretary of Shantou Municipal Committee of the CPC as a member of the Board. We hope that the provincial and municipal governments will continue to support our development. Congratulations are in order for Professor Xu Xiaohu who has been appointed President, and for Professor Li Yuguang who has been appointed Vice President. These new appointments further strengthen a leadership team that consists of experienced members of the Board, consultants, and the heads of various departments. With our concerted efforts, Shantou University will be destined for greater heights in the years ahead.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Lu Zhonghe for his contributions as the Chairman of the Board of Governors over the past four years. His expertise and experience have been invaluable to us, and we are particularly grateful to Mr. Lu for taking time out from his busy schedule as Vice Governor of Guangdong Province to help us devise a development plan. We are delighted that Chairman Lu has agreed to continue to serve Shantou University as a consultant and chairman of the Alumni Association. With Mr. Lu heading the Alumni Association, I am positive that the Association will play a much greater role in contributing to Shantou University and to society. I would also like to thank President Zhang for his contributions over the past four years, and Secretary Chuang for his enthusiastic support.

All through Shantou University’s 20-year history, I had become acquainted with the university presidents only after they have been appointed. But we have already been working closely together with President Xu and Vice-President Li for over 4 years, and we know how much enthusiasm, energy and vitality they bring to the job everyday. During today’s council meeting, they have already put forward a 5-year blueprint that lays out a new direction for our future development. I hope we will all give them our full support in carrying out this plan.

A university functions as an incubator for human knowledge and innovation. Through teaching and research, a university imparts knowledge that broadens the sphere of human understanding and promotes social advancement. Knowledge has the power to change the fate of nations as well as individuals. The 21st century will be driven by advances in information technology as the global economy becomes increasingly knowledge-based. Universities must undergo fundamental changes to cope with such a paradigm shift. Like other institutions of higher learning, Shantou University’s existing education model is being challenged. Education can no longer be confined to teaching the application of technology, but rather, it must serve a greater purpose which is to help students develop to their full potential and to disseminate knowledge. Our society is becoming highly competitive, and the demand for talent is greater than ever. Domestic and foreign universities are all putting their efforts into cultivating creative, multi-talented people. As such, an education programme based on multi-disciplinary training has become an important link in developing top-caliber people.

Many people have asked me why I spend so much time and energy on building Shantou University. During the University’s planning stages, a Beijing official who is experienced in education development, said to me, “Shantou University is a beautiful mistake.” He implied that if I wanted to contribute to education, my money would be better spent if it were invested in a key university in Beijing. This is because he did not understand the motive behind my support of Shantou University. I truly believe that the Chaozhou-Shantou area needs a major university that can produce quality graduates to keep pace with development in Eastern Guangdong and the rest of the nation. The success of Shantou University will have long-lasting benefits for the entire Chaozhou-Shantou area; it also represents my small contribution to the development of education in China. During these past 20 years, perhaps due to regulatory restrictions, Shantou University has often met with obstacles that made it difficult to achieve our goals. But I did not give up. It would have been a crime if I had simply settled for diplomacy rather than push for greater reforms. Over the years, I have repeatedly told our university officials that injecting funds alone is not enough to achieve success; we must also pool all of our energy and intellectual resources into one collective effort. Two years ago our University Council was restructured. Every one of our members was able to draw from his area of expertise and contribute his valuable advice and guidance to the Council. I believe that Shantou University’s success should not only be measured by our competitiveness with other major universities, but rather on our ability to help our students develop to their greatest potential. Achieving success for Shantou University is our common goal, and I believe we can rise to the occasion if we can all work together.

I have been working for 60 years, and I have played a small role in the development of the global economy. I have seen the rise and fall of individuals, and I have had my share of trials and tribulations. My efforts have been recognized and lauded. I have wanted nothing in return for the time, energy and resources that I have devoted to Shantou University. I have been offered a number of world-class honours and awards, and have accepted only a few in a low-profile manner. If I could turn back the clock, I would choose a lifelong career in education or medicine. As a member of the Chinese race, I will do my best to contribute to society without regard for fame or fortune, and I certainly would not mind how others perceive me.

After years of hard work, I now know that Shantou University is on the right track. I hope we can value every moment and continue to develop Shantou University into a top-class institution. Thank you.