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First-rate Universities, First-rate Disciplines: the Style of Soochow

On March 23rd, the newspaper of Jiangsu Education published a paper by President Xiong Sidong of Soochow University, in which he elaborates his perceptions of the national plan of establishing “First-rate Universities and First rate Disciplines”.

As a university with a history of more than one hundred years, Soochow University has long been reputed and respected for its persistence, openness, and perseverance that have endured from its origins in republican era to its contemporary booming as a “211 Project” institution. Today, with the national blueprints for “First-rate Universities and First-rate Disciplines in the world” serving as the guidelines for higher educational reform in China, how Soochow University should pave its way and forge into the future is a question that concerns the teachers and students, the alumni home and abroad, as well as the whole society.

A first-rate university is a university with a pattern. I perceive that the pattern of a university consists of its characters of schooling and its layouts of disciplines, which respectively and correspondingly manifest the spirits and characteristics of the institution while together compose its essence of existence and prospects. Soochow University has been deeply rooted in Jiangsu, a region with a tradition that appreciates education, innovation, and pragmatic devotion, which has nurtured the university’s spirit that honors discretion of speech and responsiveness in action. Throughout the century, the schooling of Soochow has long been highlighting sturdiness more than almightiness, and cherishing individual entrepreneurship more than superficial boastfulness. The disciplinary structure and layout of Soochow shall always adhere to its history, fundaments and features, in accordance with the university’s exploration of opportunities and growing focuses against the national background. As a resource provider, the disciplinary structural reform shall also cater to the talent cultivation, the research innovation, the culture construction, and the regional development.

A first-rate university is also a university with sentiment. University is a place for literates who should be full of humanistic compassion and altruistic passion that cannot be fostered without a perdurable atmosphere of humanitarianism and a sense of patriotism. If an institution is instilled with nothing but fierce academic competitions and benefit struggles, it is destined to fail in protecting the dignity of its academics and their scholarly pursuits, even though it might hold a high academic ranking. “Onto a full grown man”, the motto of Soochow University, is ingrained in the minds of its more than three hundred thousand alumni. Being a grown man is the source of Soochow’s sentiment while being a full man its resolution. Soochow University values the growth of every student as its destined mission, and will promote a social fashion that respects teachers and schooling and esteems ethics and knowledge.

A first-rate university is yet a university with entrepreneurship. An enterprising university should first of all assume the responsibility of serving the country and its people, the awareness of envisioning the future, and the implementation of national strategies. Second, an enterprising university should display outstanding courage and wisdom. Universities are hubs for academics, centers of scientific research, and emblems of culture; therefore, they should not only lead the social and cultural progress actively and assiduously, but also take initiatives with sensitivity and sagacity. More importantly, a university should keep accomplishing exceptional fruits of education and maintaining its reputation of schooling and that can be remembered and admired by generations of students and scholars. The one hundred and sixteen years’ history of Soochow has witnessed its enterprising with accumulation and evolution, which have contributed to today’s Soochow that enjoys social compliments for the its avidity, intrepidity, and capacity of entrepreneurship.

Pattern, sentiment, and entrepreneurship compose the style of a university and a university with such a style is the very first-rate university in my heart.