On April 5, on the occasion of Xiamen University’s centenary celebration, the Global University Presidents’ Forum was held at the Science and Art Center, Xiamen University with both on-site and online participants. University presidents and representatives from nearly 50 universities of 21 countries and regions were present in the Forum to cement friendship and seek common development. President Zhang Rong attended the Forum with Vice President Yang Bin, who served as the host. On-site attendees include Li Dejin, Deputy Governor of Fujian Provincial People’s Government; Lyu Jian, member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences(CAS) and President of Nanjing University; Fan Liming, President of Shandong University; Yan Chunhua, Member of the CAS and President of Lanzhou University; Song Yonghua, President of the University of Macau; Ding Kuiling, Member of the CAS and Executive Vice President of Shanghai Jiao Tong University; Huang Wei, Member of the CAS, Deputy Director of the Administrative Committee and Director of the Academic Committee of Northwestern Polytechnical University; Wu Xiaolin, President of China University of Petroleum, Dai Minhan, Member of the CAS and Director of the State Key Laboratory of Marine Environmental Science (Xiamen University).
President Zhang Rong delivered a welcome speech on behalf of Xiamen University.He mentioned, COVID-19 has posed new challenges to higher education globally, and the role and responses of universities have become the focus of the world’s higher education community. Facing the challenges of the pandemic, universities around the world have worked together to provide scientific and intellectual support for the fight against the pandemic through the innovation of teaching models and international exchanges and cooperation. At this critical turning-point, Xiamen University has also played a crucial role in making contributions in key fields such as educational reform and scientific research. With a century-old tradition of opening up, Xiamen University will continue to implement internationalized strategies, elevate international exchanges and cooperation, integrate itself into the world’s higher education landscape in order to collectively address global problems and make further contributions in the new era in terms of exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations and shaping a shared future for mankind.
In his speech, Li Dejin pointed out that, Fujian is not only the starting point of the ancient Maritime Silk Road but also the core region of “the 21st century Maritime Silk Road” initiative. Fujian Provincial Party Committee and People’s Government have always prioritized the development of education, committed to opening up and striving to encourage substantial cooperation with universities all over the world. Expectations on universities, the cradle of talent cultivation and the center of scientific and technological innovation, are high. It is expected that universities will take the initiative to respond to challenges such as deglobalization in the post-pandemic era. Sincere cooperation and close communication will break barriers and bottlenecks and consequently leads to common growth. A global community with a shared future will finally be forged. In the end, Li Dejin invited university presidents to visit Fujian in person, to participate in the Belt and Road Initiative, and to advance friendly exchanges.
Tan Eng Chye, President of National University of Singapore, congratulated Xiamen University on its 100th anniversary and wished the Forum a great success. He pointed out, against the backdrop of the pandemic, climate change and technological advances, the world has witnessed an increase in uncertainty and complexity, which leads to more severe risks threatening all human beings. For universities around the world, it is of paramount significance to concentrate on their own missions, constantly pursue innovation, and make adjustments. Upholding the mission of education, enlightenment and reform, National University of Singapore is committed to cultivating students with strong adaptability and competitiveness. By improving the training model of interdisciplinary talents, strengthening experiential, innovative and entrepreneurial education, enhancing life-long learning methods, NUS is contriving to handle challenges in the post-pandemic era and looking forward to closely cooperate with other universities for in-depth development in the future.
In his speech, Lyu Jian stated, to achieve Chinese rejuvenation in the face of the unprecedented changes in the world, a new round of scientific and technological revolution and industrial transformation is flourishing, bringing unprecedented opportunities and challenges to the reform and development of higher education. Embracing a long history of profound friendship and close cooperation, Nanjing University is willing to cooperate with Xiamen University to further intensify the traditional friendship, uphold the new development philosophy, proceed with high-quality development, and work together to carry forward “Double First-Class” Initiative. Nanjing University is also ready to join hands with all member universities to create a high-quality higher education system, an open self-reliant system for scientific and technological innovation and a support system for cultural soft power so that greater contributions can be made to boost national development and to build a community with a shared future for mankind.
In addition, the Forum witnessed Launching Ceremony of International Programs of XMU. Prof. Dai Minhan introduced the UN Ocean Decade regional cooperation project. Cliff Law, Chief Scientist of National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research, New Zealand, made an introduction to the international project of Surface Ocean – Lower Atmosphere Study. The SOLAS office was then inaugurated.
After the opening ceremony was the discussion on the theme of “University Mission in the Post-COVID Era and Informatization of World Class Universities”. The presidents of National University of Singapore, Newcastle University, University of Macau, Rice University, Chulalongkorn University, Shandong University, Namdi Azikwe University, University of Delaware, Syracuse University and University of Brunei delivered speeches respectively, and Zhang Rong delivered a concluding speech.
The Forum brought together the wisdom of Chinese and foreign university presidents, discussed the mission of universities in the post-pandemic era, explored effective solutions to drive the informatization of world-class universities, and built a sound platform for universities around the world to deepen mutual understanding, learning and communication.