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NTU President Si-Chen Lee and the Former President Wei-Zhao Chen’s Speeches for the Celebration of the Chinese New Year

The 2013 NTU celebration for the Chinese New Year was held in the first meeting room of the NTU Administration Building at 10:30 am on February 18th. By giving the opening speech, NTU President Si-Chen Lee expects that there will be a Nobel Prize winner from National Taiwan University by the 100th anniversary. Moreover, Lee prompted to develop the environments of starting up business by providing resources to give birth to new start-ups in this age of knowledge economics. Meanwhile, former NTU President Wei-Zhao Chen pointed out that how the situation has been in Taiwan and thus expects that the NTU alumni from the politics can do something for more contribution to the society in Taiwan. Also, Chen hopes that the NTU faculty to take care of their health well. Many attended to the NTU celebration for the Chinese New Year, and it was a nice gathering this time.

Here are the two speeches below, which were given by NTU President Si-Chen Lee and the former President Wei-Zhao Chen:

Dear former NTU President Chen, NTU faculty and the retired faculty,

Happy Chinese New Year!

It has been quite a longer holiday for the Chinese New Year with the great weather this year. I spent the holiday taking care my mother to keep a company with her, and I believed that the weather in Taipei was just as fine as the weather in the south. It was more than pleasant to have a Chinese New Year like this: we got to travel around with this beautiful weather with no rain or the freezing temperature. I hope everyone is getting ready for the new year of Snake after the relaxing holiday. This year is also an important year to National Taiwan University since there are only four more months left for my president position. There will be a new president next month. I will be done with my service very soon in National Taiwan University. Usually, the new year resolutions are all about the expectations in the new year; however, I won’t talk about my new year resolutions since I will be leaving the NTU president position in three months. Hereby, I’d love to talk about my vision for National Taiwan University so that the new NTU president and the school can keep up the vision to move forward to the future.

National Taiwan University has been showing the public a great progress by having the financial support of 500 billion in five years from the Ministry of Education. Eight years ago, I proposed and suggested the ideas of “ excellence in teaching, research and the public service”. That was my first year in the NTU President position. We have successfully done with most of them above while examining the NTU history over the past eight years. When it comes to the aspect of the public service, National Taiwan University has reached the point of integrative research: we care more than the individuals in the society as well as the public policy and law, including the global diversity, long-distance care. We have done much effort as we could ever do to contribute to the society. What’s more, we have just been working on one thing here: making National Taiwan University a birthplace where we can start up new business since it is the age of knowledge economics in the 21st century. Knowledge itself has already become the basic foundation of the whole economics, and universities happen to be the place where knowledge is the most condensed. Hence, universities are thus responsible for teaching and doing research as well as this task: being the birthplace of starting up new business, just like what we have seen from Stanford University with the births of Google and Facebook.

Back in the year of 1996, I was asked to be the Dean for National Taiwan University by former NTU President Wei-Zhao Chen. I came from the technological background and thus valued the research a lot by proposing buying the expensive experimental equipment with the NTU fund due to it requires quite a lot of money to do research. It was during the time when the most of the NTU fund was put in each NTU College and thus resulted in the shortage of money in every department to buy the required equipment for scientific research. Therefore, I suggested the former NTU President Chen to buy the expensive experimental equipment by relocating the NTU fund instead. With the approval from president Chen, I thus began to work on this project with the former NTU Dean of the general affairs, Yih-Ming Chen, in hopes that everyone could propose to apply for the expensive equipment. I remember there was one particular proposal from Professor J Hsiang’s digital library: Digitalize the library data on the website so that we could read the library books via the website. Professor Hsiang’s project helps the transportation of knowledge quite a lot. We were all supportive for this project, and it did work well then. In 1998, the idea of digital library was a cross-boundary project that combined technology and the humanities, and it thus caught the attention from the National Science Council to have it form a project plan for the idea of constructing a digital museum online in a huge scale. All the associated information of the national museums can thus be transported on the websites once they have been digitalized. It means a lot to the education. Furthermore, this project of digital museum has been getting bigger and bigger by having started a national project, called digital collection for five years ever since 2002. This national collection included the participation of National Palace Museum, Academia Historica and the other national museums in Taiwan. This project has made all the important museum collections digital. With the success from the first project, the second five-year project focused on the digital contents; in other words, the digital contents can be applied for the cultural and the creative industry with the know how. Over the past decade, the second project has finally been completed last year in the late 2012.

At that same time while National Taiwan University was working on the digital projects, there was a professor doing the project of digital library as well in the Computer Science Department of Stanford University in 1996. Two of the professor’s Ph.D students, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, are later known as the founder of Google. I have been to Page’s speech in the Department of Physics of Stanford University. He talked about how they went to the basement in Computer Science Department, where he and Brin found a lot of new desktops, which were purchased by the school’s research plans then. Thus, Larry Page and Sergey Brin set up all the desktops to begin working on their research. Due to the huge number of the data, they had to create a powerful search engine to look for all the data for their references. Therefore, they developed a formula to form their own search engine, and this formula went well with them. Two years later, they successfully found some people to invest on their search engine, and this was how and when they started up a small company in Mountain View, where it is just next to Stanford University. This was the birth of Google. And many more years later, Google Inc. has already become the giant in the internet industry in the world. How it started up the search engine was actually during the same time when National Taiwan University was promoting the digital library and museum projects.

Based on the history and the Google story, I have been rethinking this, that we do have something new in National Taiwan University. It is just that we have never put it into practice, and this is really something we have to think about! We are lacking the atmosphere of starting up businesses, and this made us putting our thesis paper aside instead of putting them into practice by starting up a new business. However, we have to admit that there was not enough resources for starting up businesses at University campus back at that time in the 1990s. Unlike Silicon Valley and Irvine in California, we didn't get to have that much resource for university students to start up new businesses back in Taiwan. University students in Silicon Valley and Irvine could come up with something new from their schools then. Hence, National Taiwan University established Intel-NTU Connected Context Computing Center last year in hopes that we can move on to the next level so that more and more venture capital funds will be attracted to invest on the Intel-NTU Center. The ultimate goal of establishing the Intel-NTU Connected Context Computing Center is to make it a birthplace of huge corporations outside the campus. As well as having research centers established, National Taiwan University also connects with the NTU alumni from the industries. NTUEA (National Taiwan University Entrepreneur Association) has thus been working on developing the environment for NTU students to start up new businesses with Barry Lam as the leader here. We expect to give birth to another Google or Facebook from National Taiwan University in the next five to ten years by actually making NTU a center of starting up businesses. And this will be something I haven’t had the opportunity to achieve but hope to execute and thus make it come true.

I proposed two visions from my expectation for the NTU anniversary last year. First, there will be a Nobel Prize winner from National Taiwan University, and this is something I am very confident with for the next 15 to 16 years. I do believe that we can have our dream come true as long as we really strive for it with our efforts. Back in 2008 during the 80th NTU anniversary, we proposed to be ranked as one of the top 100 universities in the world by saying this slogan, “Proceed to the top 100 for the 80th NTU anniversary”. And we were truly ranked as the 100th place by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings in the same year. Moreover, we are very much close to be ranked as the top 50th university in the world, and this vision was proposed by the second Aim for the Top University Project. I believe this goal will be achieved within only a few years. And the same thing to the local Nobel Prize winners, I have confidence in it for the next 15 years. It has been getting more potential in the research areas of physics, chemistry and biochemistry that there will eventually be a Nobel Prize winner from National Taiwan University. Within more efforts done in the next five to ten years, it is very likely that we will witness a Nobel Prize winner from National Taiwan University! My next vision is that National Taiwan University can be a birthplace to another Google by activating the environment to start up new businesses in any way. Let’s keep going for this dream once we have this set. We will definitely have it come true one day as long as we put our efforts. Last but not the least, I wish everyone a happy Chinese New Year. Be healthy and be blessed! Thank you very much!

The Speech given by former NTU president Wei-Zhao Chen:

Dear President Lee, teachers and NTU faculty,

I always look forward to the NTU celebration for Chinese New Year every year. I am glad to catch up with many NTU coworkers here. First, I’d love to say something to represent our NTU Alumni Association, that is, I really appreciate what President Lee has been doing to National Taiwan University over the past years with his great contribution, and I do respect that. President has done many creative tasks for National Taiwan University by getting NTU the opportunity to be able to be ranked as the one of the top 100 universities in the world. In addition to that, he made it that National Taiwan University has successfully become the pioneer from only being a follower before. And this is really something in Taiwan. Just like what President Lee has just mentioned in the opening speech, the new visions for National Taiwan University are to be ranked as the 50th place by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings and to witness a local Nobel Prize Winner in the next five to ten years. That is to say, the new NTU President will definitely under much pressure in a good way in the near future.

Today, I am here to wish everyone a happy Chinese New Year. I wish you could make a big fortune in the year of Snake with a better turning point. May the year of Snake bring you blessings and happiness by making a great fortune! It might sounds a little bit secular or shallow to speak of money and fortune in the academia; however, it is now during the time of difficulties. And we have to admit that everyone has been striving for a living over the past year, though honestly we seldom wish people a big fortune here. I have to point out the phenomenon here in Taiwan that the civil servants and teachers have become the enemies of the citizens simply because of the recession of economics. The GNP have been cut down; however, it makes sense to cut down the benefits for the upper class when it comes to the times of difficulties while the poor can barely make a living. Instead, the government cut down the income for the blue collar and the school faculty. It seems to be that just seeing others’ wage get cut down can satisfy everyone! Recently, this humiliated us a lot by value the civil servants and teachers this way. Once upon a time, I took a cab and had a conversation with the taxi driver. The conversation got fierce when the driver began to accuse the civil servants and teachers with their pension and salary. And I was scared that I didn't mention I was a retired teacher and the civil servant as well. The society in Taiwan has been polluted with the bad influence from some policies. Many retired teachers and the civil servants have all experienced the same situation, and we all suffered from what the governmental officials decided by cutting down the annual pension. Consequently, this has resulted in the number of the red envelopes that I planned to give to my grandchildren for the Chinese New Year. Despite of that, I have to say that we elder people can still make a living by having a simple life even though we’ve had our pension cut down. What I really concern is what happened to the young generation in Taiwan. NTD $22,000 for a NTU graduate should not be such a big deal; however, this reflected a bad situation. President Ma has once said that, “the industries can raise up the salary because of the insufficient income the corporations can manage to earn.” Personally I don't agree with what he said. Here’s the question, “when will the corporations earn enough?” It is well know that the economics has been growing up over the years though with about 3% to 5% growth. And according to this, the GNP is supposed to be higher by distributing this economic growth to each citizen, even by only raising up the 1.5% to 3% of the salary. It turned out to be the opposite that we actually have fallen back to what the situation was like ten years ago. So where is the money? Obviously everyone knows the answer! And this is what caused the disparity between the poor and the rich by consequences. After my second thought, I realized that most of the government officials are NTU graduates, including Liu Chao Shiuan, Wu Den Yih and Chen Chun, ever since Ma began to serve as the President. It appears to be that we couldn't reveal what troubles us by really speaking up for ourselves, and this is depressing. I only hope that the economics in Taiwan can really be improved and get better by the new politic measures from the new government officials in the new year so that we can be more responsible to the society in Taiwan with a better future for every citizen.

Actually, it is not really big deal that we don't make a big fortune. Health is what really matters! I had the opportunity to catch up with one of my former NTU coworkers right before the Chinese New Year, and he had to pay a visit to a friend of his afterwards. He did talk about how bad the situation was in the late year of Dragon last year in Taiwan. Many acquaintances and friends around him had something bad happened last year, especially when it comes to the health. This is what I’ve been thinking too. Two of my former coworkers in the hospital of National Taiwan University have just had the heart attack recently, and they were thus sent to the intensive care unit. Both of the two surgeons are under the age of fifty. The dean of National Taiwan University College of Social Sciences has just suffered from the similar health problem too. Therefore, health is what really matters, and making a fortune is not a big deal when it comes to the body health. I suggest that everyone should keep the habit of doing exercise more often in order to release the pressure in the right way in time.

I hope everyone a refreshed and a better new year in the Chinese year of Snake! May you all make a great fortune by doing the right thing in the turning point. Be successful, be fulfilled and content. Receive more blessings and happiness in the year of Snake. Most of all, I wish everyone a healthy life of wealth, peace and happiness. Last but not the least, thank you all for attending to the NTU Celebration for the Chinese New Year!

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