On December 7th, 2017, Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) invited university presidents from around the globe to participate in a Presidents’ Forum on the “Transformative Power of Universities for Our Future.” SCU President Xie Heping was among invited delegates from over 20 countries, representing 34 institutions – including the University of Cambridge, l’École Polytechnique, Kyoto University, and the University of British Columbia – who all came together as leaders of top-ranking colleges and higher education institutes to discuss the vital contributions their institutions could make to future global development.
Addressing the forum, President Xie echoed the spirit of the recent 19thParty Congress and SCU’s own development goals in outlining three tasks he sees as crucial to the mission of world-class universities embracing their responsibility of global leadership: the first task is to cultivate a new generation of societal leaders with a strong sense of social responsibility; secondly, universities must work directly toward the advancement of social development; finally, they must explore new ways of substantially contributing to the fight against poverty.
According to Academician Xie Heping, Sichuan University is well situated to help propel the “Chinese Dream” in the areas of education and cultivating graduates concerned not only with their personal success, but committed to human flourishing. The expression ‘pillars of society,’ notes Xie, refers not only the leading scientific minds of today’s world or the most celebrated politicians, educators, or entrepreneurs: it also describes ordinary citizens making less visible yet needed contributions behind the scenes. Educating and cultivating responsible citizens such as SCU alumni who went on to support African wildlife foundations, work for environmental protection, or dedicate themselves to earthquake engineering in disaster-prone regions in Yunnan and Sichuan -without expecting anything in return - should in fact be the mission of any leading university.
President Xie explained that a university wanting to leave its mark on history has to strike a balance between serving the country and developing the region on one hand and building its academic and scientific strengths on the other. Sichuan University has consistently set a strong example by way of its commitment to social development, environmental protection, educational efforts, and disaster prevention work in western China. Xie holds that the key to realizing the “Chinese Dream” of a moderately affluent society lies in guaranteeing moderate wealth for all members of society, which includes the many individuals and communities still living in poverty. In order to change the downward economic spiral of those born into poverty, people must be educated; children must be equipped with the knowledge that they can change their fate and the fate of their communities, that they can, through education, break out of poverty for good.
During the forum, President Xie met with the president of Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Dr. Timothy W. Tong, to discuss the two universities’ educational and academic collaboration and development of the Sichuan University-The Hong Kong Polytechnic University Institute of Disaster Management and Reconstruction. President Tong expressed his deep appreciation for the cooperation between Sichuan University and PolyU. He is confident that it will develop further to new heights.
The Presidential Forum was a feature event during PolyU’s 80thanniversary celebrations.
While in Hong Kong, President Xie Heping also took the opportunity to visit the chairman of the The Hong Kong Jockey Club, who donated the construction of the Institute of Disaster Management and Reconstruction. President Xie thanked him, offering an update on the school’s status and humanitarian aid efforts in the disaster-stricken areas of Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture and Lushan (in Sichuan). As a member of SCU’s International Advisory Board, the chairman looks forward to his continued cooperation with Sichuan University.
On December 8th, President Xie Heping visited the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in Hong Kong, where he reported on SCU’s academic partnerships with higher education institutions in the SAR.
To conclude the visit, President Xie also paid visits to some of SCU’s alumni residing in Hong Kong.
SCU Vice President Yan Shijing, along with representatives of the Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan Affairs Office and other relevant departments, accompanied the delegation.