Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Professor Xi Youmin

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As the streets are being embellished with decorations for Christmas and New Year, we suddenly realise that 2015 will soon be concluded. For each of us at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University it has been a year of achievements in every aspect. It’s in this year that we’ve seen an additional 3,000 fresh faces from across the world blend into our campus, while nearly 2,000 graduates went off on their way to a new stage of life. It’s in this year that we’ve seen the launch of the Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University Affiliated School (XJTLU-AS), which is a demonstration that XJTLU is promoting its educational philosophies and practices in primary education. And it’s also in this year that we’ve built a strategic partnership with the government of Suzhou Industrial Park, establishing 11 research institutes, one International Technology Transfer Centre and one International Innovation Hub, which together form an open and international innovation base bringing resources and contributing to win-win development. In this year, we’ve collaborated with companies and governments in building research bases, institutes and centers including the XJTLU-Wujiang Taihu Lake New District Research Institute, the XJTLU Jincheng Financial Centre, a further push to financial education, research and services, and the XJTLU Jincheng School of Cinematic Arts, a brand new exploration for XJTLU. Additionally, our highly anticipated South Campus has begun to grow and is expected to be put into use by next summer.

Despite all of this, we always aim higher and 2016 will be another exciting year for us, because we will celebrate the 10th anniversary of our university. We deserve, after all this hard work and effort, to indulge ourselves in beautiful memories of the past and enchanting imaginations for the future, but we should seize the moment and prepare for the next stage. Ten years is such a short time, but what we have built during the last 10 years will not be short-lived. We are no longer a surprise to the world. We’ve followed our heart from the very beginning and always set our eyes on the needs of society. From one block to the next, from a small team of dozens of members of staff to a high-level professional body of nearly 1,000 staff, from the initial 164 students who were courageous enough to take their chance on XJTLU to the over 10,000 registered students (nearly 8,000 of whom were on campus in 2015), and from doubts to trust, we’ve made it! We have made our contribution to the development of higher education in China, and we are very proud of what we have tried and what we have achieved.

But what were we like when we were 10 years old? We were carefree children with inquisitive eyes and wild imaginations, always wanting to explore the unknown. That is exactly what XJTLU is now. Steve Jobs said: “keep hungry, keep foolish.” At the age of 10, we had a desperate hunger for knowledge and were foolishly driven by our desire to explore the unknown. Our behaviours were just taking shape, which allowed us the freedom to take the best out of our personalities as the exploration stretched further. The same as we once were, XJTLU is growing up. One’s physical age has nothing to do with one’s mental state. A young heart is all we need to lead a life of consistent vitality. The same goes with the physical growth of XJTLU, it should always keep pace with its belief in continuous innovation and improvement, the lifeblood of XJTLU. We should “keep hungry, keep foolish” and keep exploring as if we were all a 10-year-old child!

We have named our 10th anniversary celebration “Imagine 10+”. Imagine what XJTLU will become in 10 years’ time? Despite all of the achievements we’ve made so far, and all of the attention we have drawn from peer universities and society, we still have a lot of challenges to deal with in the next year:

  1. We are promoting a research-led learning and teaching approach to deal with many modern technological challenges and help students make the most of their time. But to be specific, how should our students, teachers and departments’ work be research-led?
  2. Though we have established cross-college and department research institutes and centres to enhance interdisciplinary and inter-school partnerships, we also need to develop effective operation mechanisms for them.
  3. How should we improve cluster operation mechanisms and efficiency to facilitate resource sharing and compatible development, resolve common problems and push the limits of development?
  4. The XJTLU International Technology Transfer Centre and International Innovation Hub have been launched and we have to do a lot more thinking. How can we convince our peers to join us? How can we attract the attention of international research institutes and companies? How can we bring together resources to make a huge difference?
  5. We have a fundamental organisational structure in place but we need to think about how to support the continual development of students, teachers and staff, how to encourage personal creativity, and create a collaborative atmosphere.
  6. More schools, institutes, labs and programmes, like the XJTLU Jincheng Financial Centre and the XJTLU Jincheng School of Cinematic Arts, will be created as XJTLU seeks cooperation with companies and other sectors. How can we extend partnerships and push them up to a high level?
  7. Based on the foundation laid in the past decade, how will XJTLU attract more international students, promote the quality development of postgraduate education, and effectively carry out more meaningful research of great value and worth?

These are our missions in the New Year, when of course we will face new topics of discussion and challenges to overcome!

But now, as Christmas and New Year are coming, our time should be spent celebrating with our families and friends. And I’d like to take this moment to tell you how happy I am about the achievements all our students and staff members have made in the past year, and how grateful I am for what you have done for this university.

Thanks for your trust and belief in XJTLU! Thanks for your efforts and wisdom! Thanks to our students for sharing the most important part of their lives with XJTLU! Thanks for the understanding, concern and support from our students’ parents and other sectors of society. Without you, there’d be no XJTLU as it is today!

Ten years have passed and XJTLU will grow stronger and more mature. How I wish XJTLU will maintain its “heart” of a 10-year-old and explore its way into the indefinite future!

How I wish the same to all of you! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Stay forever young!

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