Westlake University announces prestigious school board

Westlake University, China's first private research university, held its first-ever school board meeting on Monday in Hangzhou City, electing famed Chinese physicist Chen-Ning Frank Yang as the board's honorary chairman and biophysicist Shi Yigong as the university's first president.


A design sketch of Westlake University's campus. (Photo: HENN Architecture)

Qian Yingyi, dean of the School of Economics and Management at Tsinghua University, will work as the chairman of the 21-strong school board, whose members were recommended by the Westlake Education Foundation, local government and an advisory committee.

Qian said he hopes the university will be a place of innovation and a model for a new type of higher educational institute in China, which will run on rules and allow plenty of space for the president to govern, as well as academic freedom for teachers.

Shi, 51, said he regards Westlake University as his life's mission and will devote all his efforts to its success.

The latest heavyweight to join Westlake University's ranks is biologist Xu Tian, who gave up his tenure at Yale University and was elected vice president of Westlake.

Professor Qiu Min, who worked as a full professor (Professor of Photonics) at the Royal Institute of Technology in 2009, was also elected vice president.

Several donors to the university, including Pony Ma of Tencent and Wang Jianlin of Dalian Wanda Group, were also recognized as honorary board members.

Shi Yigong and six other top scholars—Chen Shiyi, Pan Jianwei, Rao Yi, Qian Yingyi, Zhang Hui and Wang Jian— proposed establishing a new and advanced research-oriented university in March 2015. In July that year, the Westlake Education Foundation was registered as a legal entity that serves as the main fundraising source for Westlake University. The non-profit research institute and university will be dedicated to the advancement of natural sciences and frontier engineering disciplines under the administration of Jiangsu Province.