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Words from PKU President Lin

Peking University, April.21, 2015: On Mar.25, PKU President Lin Jianhua gave a speech in a conference, aiming at not only encouraging independent academics, but also promoting creativity among students and faculty.

Lin remarked that it had been four years since he left PKU, and taking a position in two universities enables him to observe PKU from an exterior prospective. PKU is abundant in active minds, and has great potentials to be a top university in the world. He argued that the most obvious characteristic of an excellent university was contemplation. Only when we could find out our problems and keep in mind our severely competitive surroundings can we make progress continuously.

Lin Jianhua listed mainly twelve points in the following to illustrate his argument.


              Lin Jianhua appointed as the new President of PKU

China’s higher education since Reform and Opening up
China’s higher education since Reform and Opening up can be divided into three periods, emancipation of thoughts and the spring of science in the 1980s, bewilderment and exploration of market economy in the 1990s, the golden age of PKU and her determination to build a world-class university. History has offered us abundant materials and academic basis, but it also saw us abandon plenty of exquisite academic traditions. Anxiety for quick success, presumptuousness and flattering left universities to experience spirit and faith crisis that we have never met before. It may take decades for these defects to die away.

Development of PKU over the last fifteen years
In the past fifteen years, PKU has developed smoothly. Academic competitiveness has risen to a tremendously high level, the layout of scientific subjects have been almost completed, elite and crossing subjects have gradually gained acknowledgements, basic institutions have been improved, and the education quality has also increased steadily . But new questions also arise, such as conflicts within human resources, loss of advantage of some basic subjects, loss of motivation to expand horizon and pursue academic independence, etc. Of course, PKU is not the only one that faces such challenges. if these problems, however, are not properly solved, they may become stumbling stones of the further development of PKU.

What China needs PKU to do
In a highly globalized environment, what does China need PKU to do? I believe, firstly, we need to foster elites which can be leaders in the long run. Secondly, we need to lead the direction for Chinese higher education and rebuild universities’ credibility and dignity. Thirdly, we need to have a share in promoting new thoughts and theories, and play an active part in our nation’s political, economic, social and cultural developments.

University logic
A university’s academic and social impacts come from its contributions to human progress. New knowledge and thoughts emerging from a university’s academic research are significant. But more importantly, a university’s contribution lies in whether it can hatch those who will carry on the spirit of human civilization. Thus the main logic of university is to foster talents. In order to guarantee this logic, a high-level teaching team, reasonable employment, evaluation system, salary system, and a suitable management and resources arrangement system are all necessities. These are basis of universities and are also basic concepts in the future development of universities.

University is a big family
One problem that a university must face is how to make full use of everyone’s talent. Universities must take every individual and community’s benefits into consideration without abandoning their core principles and values. Every department deems their own subject as the most essential one, but universities need to take everything into account. Teachers tend to focus more on personal academic development, while universities should require teachers to pay more attention to students and teaching. In fact, any personal development relies on the development of the university as a whole. And only when the potentials of individuals are fully expressed can the university achieve more success. Thus, a university needs to set up a management system which considers every party’s benefits. It is also essential to activate every individual or community, and let their creativity sparkling as well.

Cultural direction
One of the most severe challenges universities face is to prevent themselves from being invaded by unhealthy tendencies from society. When we do not set limits for pursuing self benefits, and when we do not feel embarrassed to ask others in order to fulfill our own purposes, we are in fact unconsciously abandoning moral and value baselines. And someone may go even further as to ruin university’s reputation and break the law. We cannot deny that in reality, some people gain quick success in such ways, and some remain unknown because of sticking to moral principles.

Our words and actions are passing on our values to our descendants. Benefits ought not to shake our determinations to maintain academic sincerity and dignity. A university must maintain academic dignity, stick to academic independence, protect academic liberty, pursue truth and excellence, and reestablish social conscience. Teachers must obey professional and moral regulations. Maybe people can tolerate politicians’ pursuit of quick success and benefits, but they will not allow any thoughts concerning pursuing quick success and benefits of an educator. A university must be an ivory tower which can resist these temptations and remain its own principles.
Management structure
The unreasonable arrangement of organizational structure may lead to the ambiguity of rights and the waste of resources. Strategy is based on effective organizational structure. PKU made proper adjustment to the administrative system. The core ideas are the clear division of labor, the coordination between administrative department and college, and the efficiency of management.

Personnel system
The basic goal of personnel system in PKU is to reform the dual system of personnel and to establish proper hiring, salary and evaluation system. This is a complex system that combined with top-level design, overall planning and step-by-step implementation.

Academic performance
Organizations of academics are the basis of universities. PKU has comprehensive disciplines, which is an advantage for the growth of students. PKU should consider what academic accomplishments would be remembered after decades. Chinese economy growth attracts worldwide attention, but new thoughts and theories are needed in national governance. PKU therefore encourages the academic research in national development and specific fields.

Talents cultivation
The core duty of the university is cultivation. In fact, the performance of graduates will magnify the academic and social influence of universities. PKU is encouraged to pursue higher morality and value. Adhering to truth, encouraging cultural diversity and debating on academic issues are educational functions of universities. The teaching concept of PKU would be shifted from “discipline-centered” to “capacity-centered”.

Thinking about the reform
A university’s comprehensive reform refers to mobilizing organizations and individuals with limited resources to strive for the goal of a university. The key point of a reform is to find the structural causes and solve them accordingly. In 2015, PKU will promote the reform in three perspectives: management structure, personnel system and talent cultivation.

Innovation and world-class university
Opening a road for China’s own higher education concerns not only education, but also Chinese people and the Chinese dream. Every educator should keep in mind that hesitation and imitation are not the right way. Being innovative and leading the way to revitalize higher education are the biggest dream and glory for all of us.


Written by: Wang Chutong & Meng Yiran
Edited by: Xiao Chunliang
Source: PKU Youth