Yale President Richard C. Levin
April 24, 2011
President Hu Jintao, President Gu Binglin, distinguished guests, faculty, students, staff, alumni, and friends:
It is an honor to bring greetings on behalf of the many universities represented here. And it is a particular honor to reinforce in the presence of China’s leaders the high regard in which Tsinghua is held by universities around the world.
In its first century, Tsinghua has played an integral role in the development of China. Many of its 170,000 graduates have become leaders in their fields. The first two Chinese to be awarded the Nobel Prize – Chen Ning Yang and T. D. Lee – were both educated at Tsinghua. Professor Qian Xuesen, Professor Zhu Guangya, and Professor Qian Sanqiang, among other Tsinghua graduates, have made important contributions to China's scientific development. We at Yale are especially proud of our role in your early history. Four of the first five presidents of Tsinghua studied at Yale.
Everyone who visits Tsinghua is impressed by the rapid pace of investment in new facilities and the growing strength of the faculty. Tsinghua’s contributions in science, engineering, environment, and sustainable design are known around the world, and its entrepreneurial efforts in educating leaders in business and public policy are much admired. Tsinghua is consistently recognized with the most State Science and Technology Awards of any of China’s universities.
Tsinghua has been at the forefront in forging partnerships with institutions around the world. You have longstanding and successful collaborations with MIT, Johns Hopkins, the University of Michigan, and Columbia University. Tsinghua has also been a leader in forging collaborations with industry. You have joint research centers with more than 30 companies, including Toyota, United Technologies, and Boeing.
Yale is fortunate to be Tsinghua’s partner in some of these important collaborations. The Yale-Tsinghua Program in International Healthcare Management, established in 2009 as part of Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Women initiative, is providing advanced training to 500 women from rural China. And a Yale-Tsinghua collaboration with the China Association of Mayors is helping municipal leaders meet the challenges of sustainable development in the 21st Century.
Universities around the world salute Tsinghua for its commitment to send its students overseas and to host students from abroad. Over 3,200 Tsinghua students go abroad annually, and each year Tsinghua hosts more than 800 visiting students, in addition to the nearly 2000 who are pursuing their degrees. In this way, Tsinghua is contributing importantly to improving the understanding of China by future leaders around the world and to improving the understanding of the world by future leaders of China.
Tsinghua’s extraordinary progress is emblematic of a major development that we who represent universities from around the world have been watching with great interest: the rise of China’s universities. As barriers to the flow of people, goods, and information have come down, and as the economic development process proceeds, China has increasing access to the human, physical, and informational resources needed to move its universities to the highest level of excellence.
Increasing the quality of education around the world results in better-informed and more productive citizens. The fate of the planet depends on our ability to collaborate across borders to solve society’s most pressing problems – the persistence of poverty, the prevalence of disease, the proliferation of nuclear weapons, the shortage of water, and the danger of global warming. Having better educated citizens and leaders will help us to confront these challenges.
I close by quoting from President Hu’s speech at the National Conference on Education held in Beijing last July.
Education is the cornerstone of national rejuvenation and social progress, and the basic means to improve the all-around development of individuals. It carries hundreds of millions of families’ expectations for a better life.
For 100 years, Tsinghua has been dedicated to fulfilling these expectations. On behalf of the world's universities, I offer heartfelt congratulations to Tsinghua University as it begins a second century in pursuit of a better life for its graduates, and a better world for all humanity.