President Liu, director Yongbo Liu, Dean Junshan Mou, distinguished guests, friends, and colleagues. Zao shang hao. Greetings on this wonderful day.
It is with deep respect and personal honor that on behalf of New York Institute of Technology as well as on behalf of my fellow Americans, I bring greetings and congratulations to SDIBT on its tenth birthday.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of former President Richard Nixon’s trip to China and his visit with former Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai. Today we are celebrating in part a legacy of that strategic trip and the subsequent 40 years of U.S.-China exchanges.
NYIT had a connection to that trip, which brought the first American president to Chinese soil. President Nixon’s physician who accompanied him was Kenneth Riland, a co-founder of our NYIT medical school. I’m pleased to say that today, the leaders of our medical school and Center for Global Health are working with colleagues here in China to promote the education of American medical students on the benefits of traditional Chinese medicine while also creating programs to improve the quality of primary care in China.
As universities, we belong to a great and long tradition, yet today we are still at the beginning of the emergence of a global higher educational system that will be transformed and blossom in the 21st century.
The 21st century is becoming the age of education without borders. It is one of the changes spawned by our global digital revolution. In our global economy, ideas know no borders; human capital is no longer seen as the domain of a few developed nations.
At the university level, we are gearing up to teach 100 million students worldwide, in a world where only one in six humans live in a developed nation. We are inventing new paradigms and erasing old notions of geography.
Let’s take five major challenges of the 21st century: water, energy, the environment, health care, and education. Taken independently or collectively, the academy—through our traditional roles of teaching, scholarship and service—is particularly well positioned to play a central role in advancing solutions and policies on these vital subjects.
And none of these challenges can be met locally, only glocally, that is by thinking globally and acting locally. Universities worldwide are a supreme resource in teaching students and the public about issues with global resonance. We research the new scientific and technological solutions to these prominent issues, and we model the best practices for students and the global community.
Meeting global challenges means we must educate on a global scale. Education is the currency that crosses borders and oceans…and brings solutions to civilization’s most complex challenges. My university, New York Institute of Technology, is deeply committed to playing a role in modeling new organizational structures, relationships, and programs in higher education for the 21st century.
I’ve spent most of my life in higher education and it’s a wonderful place. But it hasn’t always been the same place. The Greek philosopher Heracleitus said, “You can’t step twice into the same river,” and that’s true of higher education as well. Yet for centuries, it was just barely true. Higher education was more like a fish tank than a river. Today, we not only step in the river, but we’re riding the current, and the voyage is exhilarating.
In the United States today, over 20 million students attend college. Many parents now expect a college education for their children, and it is a precondition for a huge array of jobs in today’s knowledge economy. The best jobs demand professional degrees.
The phrase, “knowledge economy,” was once considered a business term. But it has expanded to mean so much more—an economy where creating and applying knowledge is central to creating wealth and benefits. Human capital—the skills, knowledge, and abilities of individuals—fuels the knowledge economy. As you know, colleges and universities are essential for building human capital.
Ideas and research are not confined by borders; they flow freely around the world and provide opportunity for many people to advance, no matter where they live. So when we educate people with an eye toward developing global competence, as I’m proud to say we do at NYIT, our graduates are well-prepared to contribute to a knowledge economy that transcends all borders.
Just 200 years ago, college was an exotic realm. Instructors in the West actually taught in code. They used Latin, a language dead for over a thousand years. Higher education was costly, a world of the wealthy. And most scholars felt they were simply caretakers of information. Professors saw themselves as simply handing knowledge down from past to future.
Then came the shock of the 19th century. Modern market economies suddenly arose. So more people moved to cities Life was accelerating — very fast.
Higher education was changing too.
By 1900, science and technology had expanded greatly and the knowledge base grew. Colleges stopped being just archives of knowledge. They are, as you know, now powerful generators of insight, of scientific findings, of breakthroughs that change our lives.
Today, as economies interweave, colleges link them together as well. Students immerse themselves in a global university before going out into a globalized world. It’s an exciting phenomenon, and it has just begun.
My own university, New York Institute of Technology, has thought deeply about what it takes to be a premier global university in the century ahead.
New York Institute of Technology is one university with two campuses in New York, one in the heart of Manhattan, and another in a suburb about 40 kilometers away. It is a great fortune to have New York as our location, and our first name.
At the same time, NYIT is a leader in worldwide education. We have programs, sites, and campuses globally … and virtually. Our 14,000—about half graduate students and half undergraduate students—come from 44 U.S. states and 109 nations. We are proud that students from around the earth choose to study at NYIT.
We are especially proud of our ties with China, which go back decades. We currently have 1,500 alumni living in China and more than 1,000 students with either Chinese or American origins studying in China. In New York, we are home to 300 students each year from China, including some who come to us in exchange or dual-degree programs. We often exchange professors and jointly participate in conferences.
Since 2009, NYIT and Shandong Institute of Business and Technology have enjoyed a cooperative agreement for M.B.A. students. I am honored to say this past year, we had students from SDIBT in New York, and we look forward to welcoming many more SDIBT students in the future.
Last fall, NYIT and SDIBT also signed an undergraduate cooperative agreement for a 2+2 collaboration, and yesterday, we signed another agreement to further expand our institutional cooperation at both graduate and undergraduate levels, laying the foundation for a 3+1 undergraduate program.
I applaud the International Business College at SDIBT’s efforts to develop a unique educational model to produce advanced-level graduates with the knowledge and skills to succeed in the 21st-century economy. You are effectively promoting the globalization of education, encouraging students’ personal development, and preparing them for the global economy.
Like you, NYIT is proud of its global students. No matter where our students live, they are part of NYIT. For some, that has meant incredible opportunities with international projects. Our architecture students, for example, flew to Cuba to help renovate historic buildings. We had students in New York, one from Long Island and one from Nanjing, working together creating for the Motorola Corporation a winning application for its prototype Golden-I computerized headset. Our Center for Global Health sends young doctors- and nurses-in-training to countries like Ghana, Haiti, Belize, and El Salvador, where they reduce suffering and save lives.
And as a global university, we link three strategies: We teach students to spot and solve real-world problems. We give them an interdisciplinary, team-oriented approach to challenges. And we train them to use technology in these tasks.
We have led by example—especially in conservation and energy management, green design, and global medicine.
A 21st-century university can use technology to help great minds—wherever they are—collaborate. And in the next five years, we are sure to see many advances.
Many people in China and elsewhere want to know, what is the ranking of universities? It is an odd question, really. And, in my opinion, the wrong question to ask unless connected directly to needs and outcomes…or to students for the most part.
Ranks are, in many ways, comforting. They are supposed to let us see, almost at a glance, who is the best. Plus, rankings will not disappear, but how can we measure the true quality of research or teaching?
We can start by looking at a country’s economic needs and how its higher education system meets those needs. That’s an indicator that would have true value. Does the institution prepare good- and great-quality graduates for the jobs it already has and the jobs it projects for the future? And we need to look beyond borders to consider the global knowledge economy and the way our institutions are generating human capital that will meet its needs.
We might want to consider expanding the amount and type of institutions that are ranked, as well as the how we classify them. That, in turn, will help make them more relevant to students, governments, and the institutions themselves. What are the measures we have to prove our outcomes and rankings?
The successful universities of the future will be involved in strategic alliances in the shape of research centers, joint degrees, and other educational programs that will fill needs and bring cutting-edge curricula, faculty, and practitioners where they are needed and when they are needed.
We are preparing students for careers that do not yet exist. Technology is bringing wonders into our lives, disrupting industries, and reshaping our world. And in the global university we will be at the forefront of these advances. We will teach our students once unimaginable skills. And our students can remake the world.
Our president and your premier have echoed themes of innovation, technological breakthroughs, and collaboration in tackling common problems we share.
Cultivating an atmosphere that supports cross-cultural collaboration is one of our hallmarks as global educators.
In closing, I salute Shandong Institute of Business and Technology and its students, graduates, faculty and administrators, for what it has been, for what it is, and particularly for what it will become.