NYIT President Edward Guiliano, Ph.D., welcomes new students to the NYIT campus in Nanjing, China.
President Yang, colleagues, and especially our newest students:
Welcome to the opening of the NYIT program in this new academic year. Good morning. I am once again delighted to be here.
Members of the Class of 2015, on behalf of NYIT’s 14,000 students, and 3,600 faculty and staff at our campuses throughout the world, thank you for choosing NYIT-Nanjing.
Thank you also to the members of Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications, and to all of the provincial and city government officials who have helped us establish this unique venture, the most successful joint U.S. undergraduate program in China.
Class of 2015, I am going to speak a lot of words this morning, and you won’t be able to follow them all now, but you will before you graduate, and you will be able to read this speech as early as today on the NYIT website.
The last time I was in China, a few weeks ago, I came as the United States delegate to a forum of college presidents held in Shenzhen. I spoke to representatives from more than 160 universities about how universities are natural incubators of ideas, collaboration, and ingenuity. I shared the idea that students need to be citizens of the world to meet the challenges of the global marketplace.
I spoke with confidence. Why? Because I’ve seen it happen at NYIT.
Our first-rate students – and I mean you – have the opportunity to earn a distinguished degree from NUPT and another from NYIT. That gives you a competitive advantage over your many contemporaries also entering college in China today. More than 9 million of you took college entrance exams in 2011. The competition, as you well know, is quite steep—only 6.5 million seats were available. You should feel proud of yourselves for earning your places here today.
You have joined a special club. Right now, about 5% of adults in China have earned a bachelor’s degree. Because you are pursuing an American degree, that’s another club you have joined. Here, you will experience an American-style education, with small classes, open discussions, and opportunities to gain hands-on market skills in internships and volunteer work. We are constantly trying to make your experience here better. Later today we will announce the opening of the Center for the Humanities and Culture at NYIT-NUPT — a place where you will see films and hear speakers, attend conferences, read, or take advantage of Internet connectivity.
And if you attend classes at our campuses in New York before you graduate, you may walk the streets of Manhattan, where about 60% hold a bachelor’s degree. This is an especially exciting time for young scholars in China, because new Chinese graduates represent nearly one-fifth of the talent entering the workforce across the globe today. Here is a video that might provide you more insight into why NYIT is a special place to be and how we join together as one university, and one community.
Together here today, we open NYIT’s fifth historic year in Nanjing. We now have more than 1,100 students enrolled at NYIT-Nanjing, including 330 new students.
This year, NYIT’s campuses have students from 44 states and a record 109 nations — including some from New York who will be spending the semester here in Nanjing. This is an incredibly diverse community in which to immerse yourselves face-to-face or through NYIT’s robust online tools and networking. Whether you’re studying communications, business, or engineering, you are an important part of the NYIT community.
Members of the Class of 2015, in the coming weeks and years, you will learn about and experience some of the greatest ideas and creative expressions in science, business, art, and literature. You will surely have a few interesting coming-of-age life experiences as well. That’s what college is about. Here at NYIT-Nanjing and perhaps even at NYIT-New York, you will meet many bright minds and unforgettable professors. Don’t be afraid to connect with them soon…they will be among your most important guides to the future…your future.
In these four years, I predict, you will get the best of Chinese higher education interwoven with the best of American higher education. So, let’s look a little closer at what makes an American college distinctive.
First, there is a core curriculum. At NYIT, we devote about a quarter of all classes to general knowledge. This curriculum, which will engage your minds tomorrow and over the next four years is an updated solution for addressing the skills that all employers today are looking for—skills in communications, literacy, critical and analytical thinking, an interdisciplinary mindset, ethical and civic engagement, a global perspective, and knowledge of the nature and process of the arts and sciences.
Now, you may ask — and I hear it all the time — what does general knowledge matter if you are certain you want to be an engineer?
I have many answers. To start with, you are more than an engineer. You are a person. And general education gives you the context of the world you live in. It tells you about the people for whom you’ll be engineering, and in our global society, you may work for many unexpected clients. It tells you about the places where you’ll be working. And it opens vistas for you. Want to start your own company? You will need to know a lot more than engineering.
Second, when you walk into an American classroom for the first time, you may notice the atmosphere is unlike anything you are accustomed to. You may notice the informality at once. For instance, in some classes, students may address their professors casually, and in fact some instructors let students call them by their first names. Students may also develop social – not sexual – relationships with their instructors, such as going out for coffee. Even in these cases, the typical teacher-student relationship resumes back in the classroom.
Third, professors expect students to ask if they don’t understand something. It not only saves the student time, but it tells teachers how well they are communicating. And professors respect students who work to fully understand the material. This kind of interaction is simply common. I am sure you know that in the knowledge-based economy in which we live, a college degree has become almost a requirement for a successful professional life. And NYIT graduates have an exceptional record of employment in their professions. That is because an information-rich, digitally-saturated society puts a premium on people who can synthesize information from many sources and who have developed the ability to think critically, with breadth, depth, and insight about the world around them.
NYIT already has nearly 1,500 alumni here in China, including about 750 who have earned an M.B.A. That number, which will increase rapidly, includes alumni working in China, but who also studied with us in New York. We are working with them to help them find the best employees for their companies. Which means we will be able to help you find even better employment opportunities when you graduate. In fact, during your orientation you may already have met our Associate Director of Alumni and Employer Relations, Tony Lei Tong. He is here to help you—and he also happens to be an NYIT graduate!
Our programs have attracted movers and shakers in top firms and government agencies in China including Wan Hong, vice president of Jiangling Auto Co., the largest business firm in the Jiangxi Province, and Shenglai Chen, president of the Center for the Shanghai International Arts Festival.
NYIT’s alumni also include Chen Ning-ning, known to some as the “Iron Princess,” and one of the most prominent women in China. She earned her undergraduate degree at NYIT in 1994.
Then there are more recent alumni successes that began right here in Nanjing. There is great news and numbers to report. Those numbers have to do with the students from Nanjing who earned an NYIT degree last year, in our first graduating class. Less than four months after graduation, they have already experienced astounding success. We are releasing this news today for the first time, and I am proud to tell you that 98% accepted outstanding job offers or educational opportunities in China or the U.S. Almost any university you can name would envy that placement rate. That’s 98 percent!
Our graduates secured business positions at top companies in China or the U.S., many on the Forbes and Fortune lists of largest companies. In fact, 55 different companies hired our graduates. The list includes some of the biggest companies in China or the U.S., including IBM, China Telecom, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, China Unicom, and China Mobile. And that’s at a time when the global economy has been a challenge for many seeking jobs.
Those who didn’t immediately go to work at great companies have chosen to go onto graduate school. And they were accepted into the most prestigious graduate programs anywhere. In the last few weeks, they have started at Columbia and Cornell, Duke and Johns Hopkins, Syracuse and UCLA —and NYIT—often with scholarships. In fact, 106 students were accepted into colleges or universities in the United States.
And here’s another interesting fact about the 142 students going on to graduate school: almost 70% of that group – nearly 100 students – will study for graduate degrees in computer science or electrical and computer engineering
In these opening weeks of your college years, everyone is going to give you advice—your relatives, your advisors, your professors. And all across the world, some sage old college administrator—that would be me—is imparting wisdom on the Class of 2015 at one campus or another. Let’s join the club:
Work hard—especially during your first eight weeks.
Make new friends and have fun.
Understand that almost everyone has at least one rough semester, largely imposed from circumstances outside the university. You will get through it, so don’t get discouraged—it’s part of your real-world experience.
Build up your self-confidence. It’s one of the most important qualities tied to success. And if we accepted you, we believe you have that ability to succeed.
Learn to ask for help from fellow students, professors and staff. They are there to help you. Take advantage of these opportunities…and make their day.
Start right away with your plans, but don’t be in too much of a hurry to do it all at once. During the years you are here, do plan to do it all…join a club or activity, attend an athletic event, study at one of our global campuses for a semester, take at least one internship, get to know your professors and advisors, participate in a research project, and more.
Don’t accept what I or any of your professors or advisors say on surface value alone. Grow a level of healthy skepticism. Challenge ideas before embracing them. That trait will serve you well at NYIT and in your personal and professional lives for years to come.
I want you to remember something. In four years, you are invited to join me in New York on May 17, 2015 to celebrate your graduation with an American university degree from NYIT.
We know that when that day comes, NYIT will have provided you with the tools and knowledge to succeed in what is a fast-changing society.
As incoming freshmen and millennials, you are the most electronically-connected generation in history. Your generation has seamlessly integrated all facets of technology into your lives, and you have never known life without a cell phone, laptop, or even a karaoke machine. You won’t be surprised at all that China has 485 million internet users, growing at a rate of 5 million more per month. Forty-one percent of online time is used on social networking sites, and you “netizens” in large cities spend 32 hours per week online, due to the fact that broadband is more easily accessed, leading to more entertainment opportunities online.
Many of us have realized that entertainment increasingly overlaps with education. A few months ago, I made a joke after purchasing a new iPad. I wondered: could Angry Birds be in my future? Well, the answer is yes, and incidentally, I have been hearing about the Moon Festival version released earlier this month for the Mid-Autumn Festival. How many of you tried the Angry Birds mooncakes?
I played the game this summer as a professional responsibility. And I started thinking about how this game - the most popular app around … more than 350 million people around the world have downloaded the game – could help all of us think about the way you and your friends learn.
While you’re playing Angry Birds, you enjoy the reward of getting to the next level, right? And with Angry Birds, you also get timely feedback that keeps you engaged. You can go online and get help from various experts if you’re having trouble getting to the next level.
I played the game on an Air China flight this summer, and came across a friendly flight attendant who shared tips to help me improve my score. With that coaching, I improved significantly by the end of that flight. It reminded me of the essential role that our faculty has in helping you be all you can be.
Always remember: The way you use new technology to communicate—texting, instant messaging, blogging, uploading photos and videos, and even playing video games—is reshaping how we at NYIT teach and learn.
Technology has allowed knowledge to explode at a frenetic pace. Most of what we know today did not exist when we were born, and most of what you will need to know during your careers does not exist yet.
When I meet our students, I like to tell them that our name, New York Institute of Technology, is an extraordinary calling card on the global landscape.
New York, our first name, is among the world’s capitals of business, finance, and policymaking. As you know, it is home to Wall Street, the New York Stock Exchange, major cultural venues, the United Nations, and the heart and soul of major publishing and media houses…as well as professional sports organizations including the N.B.A.
Perhaps you have heard of… the Yankees? The Knicks? Multibillion-dollar enterprises. Fifty-six of the world’s largest companies have headquarters in New York. NYIT is at the heart of this energy and opportunity.
So, NYIT provides the golden key to the world through our location, of course, but also because of our last name, technology. New York and technology are part of our fabric. You could say it’s in our DNA. And technology serves the world well—it provides access to information, communication, and solutions to the world’s largest challenges, ranging from economic to environmental. Technology opens the door to the knowledge capital I mentioned before.
So, I close by saying as you embark on your undergraduate years here, I urge you to once again study hard and take advantage of a global education and technology, and what is truly the best of all worlds.