PKU-Stanford Forum (2016) Academic Bulletin (II)

Building World-Class Universities: An Institutional Perspective

On the afternoon of Nov. 4th, the second session was hosted at the Stanford Center at Peking University (SCPKU). Professor Weifang Min, President of Chinese Society of Educational Development Strategy (CSEDS) and Professor of Peking University, served as the chair. Scholars from the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan, Korea and China held a heated discussion on the theme of “Institutional Contexts and Organizational Structure of World-Class Universities.”
       During the keynote speech, Simon Marginson, professor of University College London focused his speech on state power, bureaucratic power and academic power that shaped the multiversity. Synergies and tensions arised at the conjunction of such powers. Bureaucratic power within the institution played a pivotal role in that it simultaneously articulated and implemented external forces (state, markets, stakeholders, and global pressures). It also represented the identity of the multiversity in the world beyond it, and provided the necessary conditions for academic practice and production. He explored the dynamics, incidents and scope of national variation with respect to these powers, with some attention to distinctions among universities in the Anglosphere, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and East Asia including China. Finally, Professor Marginson concluded that global systems and patterning in information-related areas drove institutional adaptation and transformation, and a dialectic of global and national drivers shaped internationalization practices and mobility patterns.
      Prof. Lloyd B. Minor, Dean of Stanford University School of Medicine, identified the indispensable role of academic medical centers in building world-class universities and helping those universities lead the biomedical revolution. This biomedical revolution promises to transform health care and usher in a more predictive and preventive medical care. He further analyzed the inextricable linkages among education, research and patient care in academic medical centers located in research universities. For an academic medical center, the clinical enterprise is an essential component, necessary for the conduct of clinical research, the translation of fundamental and clinical research findings into clinical practice, and the education and training of future leaders in medicine and biomedical science.
      During the ensuing panelist initial remarks, Professor Qian Yingyi, Dean of Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management, delivered a speech on the nature of the university in the context of the remarkable growth in research quantity and university quality that Chinese higher education had experienced in the last fifteen years. The nature of the university is ultimately about the value of the university and institutions that are created for that value. Professor Qian identified three pillars that defined the nature of the university—for whom, for what, and how. He defined universities as institutions built primarily for students and to pursue truth, light and freedom through liberating the mind and training the mind to think. He then provocatively asked whether Chinese universities were moving closer to being “world class” but away from being the “university.” Professor Takahiro Ueyama, the Executive Member of the Council for Science, Technology and Innovation of Japan, examined the ways in which American research universities transformed their managerial style of academia since the 1980s to cope with serious cutbacks in public funds and growing competitiveness in research environments. Through the case study of Stanford University and the University of California, he explored strategic governance and management of research universities.
      Similarly exploring the issue of governance, Prof. Wang Yingjie, former Vice President of Beijing Normal University, articulated three main changes in universities and three basic conflicts faced by university governance reform. In order to solve conflicts, he suggested that shared governance might be a good solution. From the standpoint of Korean universities, Jung Cheol Shin, professor of Seoul National University, mainly explored how academic department had been institutionalized under socio-cultural contexts as well as the academic contexts in Korea. He concluded that academic departments were core components of social network, which was a critical factor in distributing economic wealth, political power, and social reputation. Meanwhile, social network played a core role in academic life as well.
       In the open discussion, scholars and session participants were engaged, among other issues, in a discussion about shared governance. Some recommended that universities should form democratic decision-making systems. They proposed giving faculty the authority of deciding on hiring and promotions and allocating resources through negotiation between university authority and that of departments or colleges.