Peking University's 120th Anniversary Brings Together Former Chairs of NZC
01/06/2018 – Recent celebrations of Peking University’s 120th anniversary made possible the bringing together of three former Chairs of the New Zealand Centre Advisory Board at the Diaoyutai State Guest House in Beijing. The World Presidents Symposium and Beijing Forum 2018 began in the afternoon of 4 May 2018, when over 200 Presidents from universities worldwide participated in the celebrations.
Peking University recently hosted the World University Presidents Symposium as part of the 2018 Beijing Forum. The theme was set as “Changes and Constants: Universities and Civilizations during the Past 120 Years.” The symposium, supported by the Chinese Ministry of Education, brought together leaders of prestigious universities from around the world not only to celebrate the 120th Anniversary of Peking University but also to explore trends in higher education and examine the future of universities. The symposium was organized around a number of sub-themes which were the focal points of panel discussions over the weekend at Diaoyutai State Guest House and the Peking University campus. These themes included: Ecology of Civilizations, Building a Higher Education Power, Global Governance and the Mission of Universities.
The event made for an opportunity to bring together three former Chairs of the New Zealand Centre Advisory Board together. Professor Jenny Dixon (Deputy Vice-Chancellor – Strategic Engagement, University of Auckland), Professor Sarah Todd (Vice- President - Global, Griffith University, formally Pro Vice Chancellor (International), University of Otago) and Dr Chris Tremewan (Secretary General, Association of Pacific Rim Universities, formerly Pro Vice Chancellor (International), University of Auckland) were all present and held discussions with Peking University on the successful track record of the Centre. Dr Tremewan was the founding Chair when the Centre was established in 2007, making the 10th anniversary of the NZC align with the 120th anniversary of Peking University’s establishment.
(Left to Right) Professor Jenny Dixon (Deputy Vice-Chancellor – Strategic Engagement, University of Auckland), Professor Sarah Todd (Vice- President - Global, Griffith University, formally University of Otago) and Dr Chris Tremewan, (Secretary General, Association of Pacific Rim Universities, formerly University of Auckland).
Despite the challenges of the modern world acknowledged by the presenters at the forum, the feeling in the room at the Fanghua Hall of Diaoyutai State Guest House was hopeful. This gathering of leaders in higher education from around the world itself represented many of the goals of collaboration and embracing change with the goal of increased prosperity for all that were evident throughout the remarks given during the Opening Ceremony.
While those who spoke during the Opening Ceremony touched on different aspects of higher education, everyone championed the importance of collaboration and working to develop institutions of higher education in China and around the world. Moscow State University Rector Antonovich Sadovnichy touched on many topics including the need for bilateral cooperation and the importance of educational exchange between countries. Cambridge Vice-Chancellor Stephen Toope discussed the need for higher education not just to change but to keep up with the changing world. He added that the most essential quality for a university was openness and emphasized the importance of embracing new, sometimes challenging, ideas while finding a workable balance between tradition and change.
(Above) New Zealand university representatives including Michael O’Shaughnessy (Director International Relations, Massey University), Professor Jenny Dixon (Deputy Vice-Chancellor – Strategic Engagement, University of Auckland), Professor Ray Geor, Pro Vice Chancellor College of Sciences, Massey University, Professor Sarah Todd (Vice- President - Global, Griffith University,), Dr Chris Tremewan (Secretary General, Association of Pacific Rim Universities) and Weidong Fu, University of Auckland China Representative.
The final speaker of the Opening Ceremony was Madame Sun Chunlan who spoke on behalf of the government as a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and Vice Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China. Quoting China’s President Xi Jinping’s speech at Peking University on 2 May 2018, Sun told the audience that it is “necessary to build world class universities with world class characteristics.” She explained that while China faced a number of issues, that education would help bring prosperity to everyone and would help realize the promise of a modern, socialist China. She also noted that universities should help meet China’s needs but should be run with a global vision that would allow China to take on more leadership in higher education. She concluded her speech offering suggestions for Chinese universities including cultivating talent and promoting international exchange.