The prize presentation ceremony for the 5th Cheung Kong Scholars Program, a joint project initiative between the Li Ka-shing Foundation and the Ministry of Education, was held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on February 20, 2003.
Mr. Li Ka-shing, Chairman of Cheung Kong (Holdings) Limited, attended the ceremony and delivered a speech entitled The Power of Mauve. Vice Premier Li Lanqing and Minister of Education Chen Zhili who are strong supporters of the program also attended the ceremony to commend scholars who have contributed to the mainland’s academic research.
Cheung Kong scholars represent the best of the best among Chinese researchers. Mr. Li said, “I hope the Cheung Kong scholars can lead our country’s research efforts and develop our collective intellect. Their accomplishments can also inspire generation after generation of young people to engage in scientific research and create better quality of life and greater prosperity for our nation.”
Mr. Li proposed the establishment of the Cheung Kong Scholars program and the Cheung Kong Achievement Award to the Ministry of Education in 1998 and donated $60 million and $10 million respectively to support these initiatives. The Ministry of Education also pledged a matching grant to support the Cheung Kong Scholars Program.
The Li Ka-shing Foundation today also announced a further donation of $40 million to continue supporting this program. The program’s primary objective is to enhance China’s academic competitiveness by attracting domestic and overseas academics to take part in the development of China’s higher education programs.
Heaping praise on the program, Chen said, “Mr. Li is a well-known patriotic businessman. It was Mr. Li who initiated this program. In the past, besides make generous contributions to the development of education, Mr. Li had also expressed hope that he could implement an academic scheme. The Ministry of Education is very supportive of this scheme and pledged a matching grant to establish the Cheung Kong Scholars Program.
“Although this program has only been implemented for a short period, it has had a far-reaching impact. The program is now recognized domestically and internationally, reflecting our nation’s respect for knowledge and talents.”
In the five years since the program’s inception, over 500 professors have been appointed, and four distinguished professors have been awarded $1 million in the Cheung Kong Achievement Award.
The Cheung Kong Scholars Program attracts highly innovative researchers who are given further training once they have been selected. The number of Cheung Kong Scholars who have been appointed as faculty members has become a key criterion in evaluating the quality of tertiary institutions. An appointment as a Cheung Kong Scholar is also very attractive for overseas scholars.
A number of Cheung Kong Scholars have also been appointed as fellows in the Chinese Academy of Sciences or the Chinese Academy of Engineering or as Chief Scientists in the “National Key Foundation Research Development Program”.
The successful implementation of the Cheung Kong Scholars Program has pushed forward reforms of China’s current exclusivity and lifetime employment system and will further enhance the cultivation of high quality teaching staff. Tertiary institutions all over the nation have begun to implement similar programs.
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