Centenary Celebration

President of the University of Chicago Receives Honorary Doctorate from Tsinghua

By Mark Sy, Special to the Tsinghua News Center

April 22nd 2011 – A standing room crowd was on hand to witness Tsinghua University President Gu Binglin bestow an honorary doctorate to the President of the University of Chicago, Robert J. Zimmer. This ceremony reinforced the intention of both universities to strengthen their collaborative relationship with each other in the years to come.

In his remarks, Professor Zimmer emphasized his enthusiasm for his school’s continued collaboration with Tsinghua University especially in the field of mathematics and science. Trained as a mathematician, Professor Zimmer highlighted the unique advantages of universality that science can deliver. As a result, Tsinghua University and the University of Chicago have begun to forge a strong network of knowledge sharing and collaborative learning.

Shortly after the doctorate ceremony, Professor Zimmer conducted a short lecture on the effects of globalization specifically on universities. He first drew examples from his own personal background, as a child growing up in an ethnically diverse New York City, to give the audience an understanding of his take on globalization. Afterwards, Professor Zimmer proceeded to highlight the evolution of the institution of University over the centuries by focusing on key events that has shaped all universities today. He began speaking about the German model of emphasizing the Research component in addition to learning in universities. This concept further evolved by the American influence of the importance of meritocracy in ideas, not aristocracy. Finally, the institution of the university further evolved with the Asian model; investing in the university as integral in a nation’s growth. After drawing these points, Professor Zimmer reinforced the importance of collaboration between universities especially in today’s global environment.       


(Photo by Guo Haijun)