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Editorial: A monumental next five years

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Published April 20, 2013 | Editorial of Peking University News 


Five years flashes in the history of a century-old institution.


But under Wang Enge, newly appointed president of Peking University (PKU/Beida), the next five years will be a period of transformation for China’s most historic university. 


Beida will celebrate its 120th anniversary in five years. Leading up to this milestone anniversary, the university is working to expand its capabilities in order to realize the “Beida dream,” which has been officially interpreted as “to build Beida into a world-class university with both Chinese characteristics and Beida features, and a university rooted in the Chinese culture.” 


The university was originally established in 1898 under the name Imperial University of Peking, fulfilling a major intellectual reform campaign during the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) under the slogan “Save the Nation from Subjugation and Ensure its Survival.”


The university has shared weal and woe with the Chinese nation throughout the past century. Generations of Beida people, in accordance with the Beida tradition, have offered blood, toil, tears, and sweat in realizing the Chinese dream - the great renewal of the Chinese nation. 


Striving to realize this dream, Beida’s new president shoulders a bounden duty to lead the university on its road to rejuvenation. 


Realizing the dream will take dedicated efforts. To inculcate propaganda is to produce an exactly opposite effect. “Empty talk will hinder our development,” said President Wang in his inaugural speech. “A university can prosper only through solid work.” 


In the next five years, we look forward to a team of both Party and administrative leadership that unites in a concerted effort. China’s current higher education system requires that the responsibility rests with university presidents under the leadership of primary Party committees. We look forward to a coordination of their relations. Under this model, Beida could set an example for other world-class-to-be universities with “Chinese characteristics.” 


In the next five years, we look forward to a step forward in teaching and research at a university that upholds truth, pursues excellence, and remains academics- and talents-oriented. Chinese President Hu Jintao noted at Beida’s 110th anniversary that “high-quality talents are a decisive force for the future fate of the country and the nation, a force on which the building of an innovative country largely depends.” Only in a tolerant environment with academic freedom could talents maximize the accumulation of positive energy, “continuously achieving first-class academic results.” 


In the next five years, we look forward to a perfection of the university’s governance structure. Take the logistics reform as an example: the Center of Dining Service's leadership change last year was just a small step in improving campus capabilities. However, the complicated composition of vested interests has revealed the difficulty of adjusting interests. Nevertheless, measures to change working style and boost efficiency are under way. 


In the next five years, we look forward to a top-level Beida closer to the international community. The going global guideline should endeavor to be people oriented, effectively serving the faculty and students both home and abroad. Vanity projects such as emphasizing only the scale of international students admitted to Beida regardless of their merits will not have a place in the Beida internationalization strategy. With a culture of advanced thought and matter-of-fact attitude, the university will unearth its historical, traditional resources, set up a Beida brand in international exchange and cooperation, and ooze a Beida style on the global stage.


In the next five years, we look forward to the realization of the Beida dream that also benefits the public. With the aid of modern technology, Beida-quality education can be shared in order for people around the world to realize their own Beida dream. Publicly-accessible online courses are a significant way to fulfill Beida’s responsibility to serve the greater society. Furthermore, the university should open up effective channels for communication with the media and society, face up to varied voices especially criticism and even blame, and establish a PR mechanism on a par with other world-class institutions.


In the next five years and beyond, the Beida dream to build a world-class university is to be the theme at Beida. President Wang noted, however, that “we may have our own, diverse dreams here at Beida - a stronghold of the pursuit of freedom of thoughts.” The vitality of Beida over the past century of twists and turns lies in the respect of individual dreams of each and all Beida people, and in Beida’s backing of the realization of their dreams by providing both resources and a free space. 


Therefore, we look forward to hearing the various voices of Beida dreams - plural - besides the theme. In every corner of the country and the globe where there are Beida people, there are Beida dreams. They together form a concert of dreams with individual notes.



Extended Reading:

In search of the Beida dream