Open letter to the ShanghaiTech community

ON2024-06-05TAG: ShanghaiTech UniversityCATEGORY: Features

May 31, 2024

Dear members of the ShanghaiTech community,

I am writing to announce that I am stepping down as the president of the University, for the reason that I have fulfilled my two-term presidency of 10 years and already joined the “70s generation” a few years ago. Since it has always been my belief that for ShanghaiTech’s robust future development, we need a younger generation of capable leaders, I have been trying my best to prepare for this transition as early as possible. Today, I am delighted to announce that Mr. Feng Donglai, (BS ’94 and MS ’96, University of Science and Technology of China; PhD ’01, Stanford University; Member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2021) has been appointed by the Shanghai Municipal People’s Government as ShanghaiTech’s next president!

ShanghaiTech has been home for me since I started the University from the scratch more than a decade ago. I have loved this community from day one, when I worked with just a few colleagues, and this community has provided opportunities I never dared to dream of, i.e., building a new research university in Shanghai, where there had been more than 60 institutions of higher education in place, not to mention that some of them are among the top tier universities of China.

Walking across ShanghaiTech now, I am so proud of what this community has accomplished over the past decade. A small but elegant campus, with student dormitories and faculty apartments established just next to the academic schools, is surrounded by the state-of-the-art national research facilities. We have put together a strong academic faculty of international competitiveness, whose average age is below 40. A lean administration structure overlooks an efficient operation with proportionally fewer staff members than any other comparable institutions. Thanks to the exceptional efforts of everyone, including our students, we have seen to it that the quality of our graduates, the high impact scientific publications, and the transformation of our research outcomes have ranked among the best universities in China. I can list many more feats of our accomplishment, including those less visible though by no means less significant, but all I want to say is that the creation of ShanghaiTech is the realization of the spirit of reform, openness, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

For all we have achieved, it is time for me to say “thank you”. I would like to acknowledge the extraordinary contributions of the members of our senior leadership, who have done a great job at the university level with such devotion. I have nothing but admiration for our faculty members, including tenured and tenure-track professors (of whom some are international scholars), teaching professors, administrative staff, teaching and research assistants, and our logistic support and service team. In particular, I owed many thanks to adjunct professors from the institutes of the Chinese Academy of Sciences for their vital support in the beginning of this University. I would say that ShanghaiTech would not be what she is today without you.

My special gratefulness goes to our students whose bravery in choosing ShanghaiTech has been a strong driving force for us to make this young institution ever better. The passion of our students’ parents about ShanghaiTech has always been an inspiration for us too, and I am also thankful to our alumni who I am sure will be an endless source of support to the University in the future.

And then, I am indebted to many industrial partners and institutional collaborators, as well as friends from various communities, for their generous support and help in innumerable ways.

Our University Governing Board members have shared their experience and expertise with such generosity in providing strategic guidance and making key decisions on consequential issues concerning the University’s development. It is truly my special privilege to have worked with them over the past decade.

Last but not least, I am deeply grateful to the Shanghai Municipal People’s Government, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the Ministry of Education of China for helping me in every aspect of my work. Without the privilege of access to their support, none of my endeavors would have come to fruition.

I have known Dr. Feng Donglai for many years. We used to collaborate on a research project when he was the director of the State Key Laboratory of Applied Surface Physics at Fudan University. A condensed matter physicist, Donglai ranks among the top tier in China and has gained considerable recognition over the world. Currently he is in charge of building the 4th generation synchrotron radiation facility at the University of Science and Technology of China. His academic credential no doubt makes him the best fit for ShanghaiTech, let alone that he belongs to another “70s generation,” who are nearly 20 years younger than I am. I am so delighted that Donglai joined us and fully expect that under his and his senior colleagues’ leadership, the future of ShanghaiTech will be even brighter and more prosperous.

Whilst I shifted the weight of responsibility to our new president, I am not 100% released. I was appointed by the authority to serve as the Chair of the University Governing Board for the next term. I did not decline the offer for only one reason: I care about ShanghaiTech! I look forward to working with the respected board members to fulfill our obligations for ShanghaiTech University, as defined by the university bylaws.

Finally, I simply want to say how much I appreciate having had the opportunity to work with so many of you and the privilege of belonging to and serving this remarkable community.

With best wishes,

Jiang, Mianheng