Transformational University Leadership

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The inaugural Summit on Transformational Leadership for Global Universities held at NUS (Suzhou) Research Institute in China attracted more than 60 participants, comprising senior management from 24 local and overseas universities, as well as key China officials. Among the invited guests were Mr Xu Tao, Director-General, Department of International Cooperation and Exchange, China’s Ministry of Education; Suzhou Vice Mayors Mr Wang Xiang and Mr Wang Hongsheng; and Mr Stanley Lee, Senior Director of Programmes and Partnerships, Temasek Foundation International.

The event on 9 and 10 November, organised by NUS and Shanghai Jiao Tong University, aims to foster close interaction among a small group of senior leaders of top universities, and generate breakthrough ideas and practices on the management of Asian universities.

Delivering his speech on the opening day, NUS President Professor Tan Chorh Chuan highlighted that higher education in Asia is facing new challenges in this time of rapid change. Technology, together with globalisation and new business models, is creating an age of unprecedented empowerment but also competition.

“Universities have the great opportunity to be true engines of innovation and agents for positive change,” said Prof Tan. “To do this well, however, universities also need to adapt and transform themselves. Our education must move to models that enable our students and graduates to be future-ready, equipped to thrive and contribute in a more unpredictable future. We need to build world-class strengths in basic research, and also find better ways to make use of these to create value and to tackle complex challenges.”

Shanghai Jiao Tong University President Professor Zhang Jie also gave his views on the journey of transformation from a local university to a global and world class university.

In the afternoon session, ETH Zurich Vice President of Finance and Controlling Dr Robert Perich, together with NUS Deputy President (Academic Affairs) and Provost Professor Tan Eng Chye, provided insights into budgeting and the university strategic planning cycle and work plan.

Speakers on the second day included Fudan University President Professor Xu Ningsheng; University of Melbourne Provost Professor Margaret Sheil; and NUS Deputy President (Research & Technology) Professor Ho Teck Hua, who spoke on governance models and structures. The final session focused on internationalisation of the global university, with perspectives from Zhejiang University Professor Wu Zhaohui, Xiamen University President Professor Zhu Chongshi, and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Vice-President of Institutional Advancement Dr Eden Woon.

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