Westlake University Advisory Board Holds Sixth Meeting

17, 2022

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The sixth meeting of the Advisory Board of Westlake University kicked off in Hangzhou on the morning of Oct. 14.

This meeting, which has been a tradition since the founding of Westlake University, discusses major directions or decisions of Westlake University's strategy and development.

Yigong Shi, president of Westlake, took the lead in reporting the progress of the university. In 2022, Westlake University opened its Yungu Campus; successfully hired three chair professors; and now has a total of 202 doctoral supervisors. Westlake University also welcomed its inaugural undergraduate class. In addition, the university saw major breakthroughs in scientific research, including the first confirmation that bacteria play an important role in breast cancer metastasis, the anti-Covid oral drug ipsevir entering clinical trials, and other achievements.

After Shi’s report, the meeting considered issues facing Westlake University, such as in general education, the undergraduate program, and technology transfers.

This year, Westlake University officially entered its undergraduate education stage, which became the focus of the advisory board members. Jia'er Chen and Enge Wang are both former presidents of Peking University, while Jiawei Wu was the founding president of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. With vast experience in university general education, these three individuals proposed very specific suggestions for the undergraduate program and general education at Westlake University.

Qide Han, chair of the advisory board, clearly stated that the fundamental mission of a university is to educate talent. In terms of general education, learning is not limited to classes. Westlake University should explore its own model, and let students know the ins and outs of civilization and also learn more by social giving back to society.

As the balance between basic science and technology transfers remains a common problem at research universities, this issue prompted a very lively discussion. David Baltimore, Nobel laureate and president emeritus of Caltech, and Richard C. Levin, former president of Yale University, summarized the practical experience of their respective schools and regarded this as important. They warned, however, that the value of basic research should not be measured by short-term commercial potential alone.

In April 2022, Westlake University officially launched the Westlake Fellows Program, which supports outstanding young scholars to carry out independent scientific research as soon as possible and helps them move toward a broader academic path. Prof. Randy Schekman, a Nobel laureate and member of the advisory board, has been deeply involved in the Westlake Fellows Program and led the formation of an advisory committee for the program. At the meeting, he shared his views on international exchanges and cooperation in this regard, and his remarks were widely praised by other members. Wei Zhao, the eighth president of the University of Macau; Xiaofan Wang, chair professor of Duke University; and Zhizhen Wang, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences; all said that even if pandemic-related restrictions persist, international academic exchanges cannot be slowed down.

During the event, the opinions of the members were heard by the president, vice presidents, University Management Council members, and Yinglin Qin, chairman of Muyuan Foods Co. Ltd., and vice chair of the Westlake University Board of Trustees. All listened carefully and gave their own perspectives from time to time.

On behalf of the school, Shi expressed his heartfelt thanks to the members for their insightful opinions, and emphasized that free exploration in science will always be the main principle at Westlake University.

Facing the future, Westlake University will encounter more complex challenges, and will continue to overcome many difficulties in becoming a world-class research university. Han encouraged everyone that if they hold on to their original aspirations, maintain an adventurous spirit, and are brave and firm, Westlake University will make steady progress, shoulder greater responsibilities in deepening the reform of the scientific and educational system, and make greater contributions to the country's innovation and development as well as the progress of human civilization.