Andrew Petter, President and Vice-Chancellor
Address to the Sixtieth Anniversary Celebration of Jilin University
September 16, 2006
Dr. Michael Stevenson
President and Vice-Chancellor
Simon Fraser University
Distinguished guests, faculty, staff, students, and alumni of Jilin University:
It is a pleasure to join in the celebrations of your sixtieth anniversary. It is also a special honour to be able to speak on behalf of many of my colleagues representing universities in countries outside Asia that enjoy partnerships with Jilin University.
As president of Simon Fraser University in Canada, I am proud of the long history of friendship between Canada and China, symbolized best by the work of Dr. Norman Bethune. It is a pleasure on this occasion to remember the importance of the name of Norman Bethune in the history of the medical school at Jilin University.
I also am especially proud of the long partnership between my university and Jilin—a partnership that may be the longest established with a university in a western country.
When Canada took the lead in recognizing the People’s Republic of China, our first diplomatic mission to Beijing included as first consul and cultural attaché a Canadian professor who specialized in Chinese history. Following his diplomatic appointment in Beijing, that historian became the president of Simon Fraser University, and this distinguished predecessor of mine was asked by the government of China to establish the first comprehensive partnership with a Chinese university. We were fortunate that the university chosen for that first agreement was Jilin.
As a result of that historical good fortune, Simon Fraser University has enjoyed a partnership with Jilin for over twenty years. In that time we have seen the exchange of many students studying at each university for credit transferred towards their degrees at either Simon Fraser University or Jilin University. Over twenty faculty members from Jilin University have spent time at Simon Fraser University as visiting scholars, and we have frequently held semester-length field schools here with classes of SFU students taught subjects in Chinese language, history and culture, by lecturers drawn from the Jilin faculty.
This relationship has allowed us to develop very close friendships in China, and to follow closely the most dramatic social transformation in all of human history. China’s contemporary economic and political importance as a result of this transformation, as well as its cultural riches, mean that all universities throughout the world must be interested in China, and all our students who must genuinely understand the modern world have to have some exposure to China.
For that reason, our partnerships with Jilin and other leading universities in China are of crucial strategic importance to us, our faculty and students.
I join with all my colleagues from international universities today in thanking Jilin University for your friendship and support for our common interests in international education.
I extend my most sincere congratulations to President Zhou Qifeng and all our colleagues at Jilin University on the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary.
Your magnificent new campus is a tribute to the importance of Jilin University among the key universities of China. It represents for all of us who are your international partners a recognition of the great achievements of this university over sixty years, and an assurance that this university will be ranked among the leading universities of China and the world in the years ahead.
Thank you for your very generous hospitality on this occasion. Thank you for your support for our partnerships in international education and collaborative research. Congratulations on this great sixtieth anniversary, and best wishes for even greater success in the future.