91st Congregation (2022)
Professor HAO Ping
Doctor of Laws
“Progress in your studies lies in assiduous effort; wasting the opportunity lies in treating studies as play. Success in your studies emerges from thinking deeply; failure comes from indolence.” These are the lines from Han Yu’s prose that Mr Ji Xianlin quoted in his farewell message 17 years ago for Professor Hao Ping when the latter left his vice president position at Peking University (PKU) to take up the presidency of Beijing Foreign Studies University. Han Yu’s words are indeed a truthful portrayal of how Professor Hao conducts his life.
Professor Hao comes from Shandong. He completed his undergraduate studies at the History Department of PKU in 1982, majoring in World History. Upon graduation, he remained at his alma mater and worked in a number of units, before leaving for the US in 1992 to enrol in a master’s degree programme in History at the University of Hawaii. Three years later, Hao Ping returned to pursue doctoral studies at the School of International Studies of PKU. In 1999, he received his PhD degree and thereafter, began taking up various administrative positions at PKU, including Assistant President and Vice President. In 2005, he was installed as President of Beijing Foreign Studies University. In 2009, he was appointed Vice Minister of the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and, in that capacity, he also took up concurrently the directorship of the National Commission of the PRC for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). In 2013, he was elected President of the 37th Session of the General Conference of UNESCO. In 2016, Professor Hao returned to his alma mater to assume the position of Party Secretary and Chairman of the University Council. Two years later, he moved over to the role of the President of PKU. Since June 2022, Professor Hao was appointed again the Party Secretary and Chairman of the University Council of PKU. Besides his academic role at PKU, he was member of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, delegate of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, and alternate member of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.
A tireless scholar with great zeal for knowledge, Professor Hao has attained academic eminence through his tireless efforts in research. He specialises in historical studies and has published, among others, the following books: Peking University and the Origins of Higher Education in China, Sun Yat-sen and America, An Unfortunate Ending: John Leighton Stuart and China. In the preface to the book Peking University and the Origins of Higher Education in China, Mr Ji Xianlin narrated the academic mindset of Professor Hao: A serious scholar, Professor Hao always pursues research relentlessly, leaving no stone unturned. While others would take their lunch break in a leisurely manner, he would use the time simultaneously to achieve breakthroughs in scholarly work. It is not uncommon for him to burn the midnight oil in order to squeeze in time to work on his publications, which is how the manuscript of this book was completed. In the preface to An Unfortunate Ending: John Leighton Stuart and China, Mr Hou Renzhi, a pioneering researcher in the modern historical geography of China, applied the following encouraging words to Professor Hao: The conscientiousness and diligence shown in Professor Hao’s scholarly work have cast a deep impression on me. I must say I am delighted to see such a fine scholar flourish in the academia. I know that Professor Hao has, amidst his busy administrative schedules, continued to allot time for academic work, and am pleasantly surprised by his tenacity and doggedness in scholarly pursuits. The remarks of these two eminent scholars can aptly be summarised in one word: industrious.
Professor Hao has always been heedful of his own work, and deals with important tasks with care and thorough consideration. Due to his extensive experience working both in China and abroad, he has amassed judicious administrative skills. He cares for his alma mater and motherland, and commands a global perspective on education. He harbours deep love for the well-being of the nation, and at the same time stresses that the future of the tertiary education sector in China lies in innovation and the upholding of academic integrity. Most important of all, he has dedicated himself whole-heartedly to educating the young, making self-sacrifice that is warranted.
Professor Hao is of the view that the building up of a strong faculty team is the key to developing higher education in China. He places special emphasis on nurturing talents that are not only competent in their field of study but are also compassionate and upright, and most important of all, will serve as leaders in society. To him, building up a strong foundation of disciplines in a university is of paramount importance. He also advocates cross-disciplinary studies. Moreover, he promotes the notion that university research work should align with the strategic developments of the nation. Today, PKU has developed into a world-class comprehensive university, well recognised both within the country and abroad, and is designated by the Ministry of Education as one of the “Double First-Class” universities. On the internationalisation front, Professor Hao has spared no effort in promoting collaborations with other institutions for more cooperation opportunities, such as those between PKU and CUHK. In 2019, the two universities signed a cooperative agreement on the offer of dual bachelor’s degree programmes respectively in Chinese Language and Literature, Linguistics, and Financial Technology. Through this joint venture, the two universities will work together to nurture talents for the nation and advance further collaborations on various fronts.
When Professor Hao took up the presidency of the 37th Session of the General Conference of UNESCO, it marked the first time that a Chinese national held that office at the United Nations. During Professor Hao’s two-year presidency term, he championed the principle of cohesiveness among nations, promoted equitable quality education, and helped the underprivileged to get more and better educational opportunities. He strongly believes in forging social cohesion among nations so that collectively, all nations can achieve better outcomes. With his joint efforts, UNESCO was able to expand its impact on the global management of UN member nations. This admirable act of Professor Hao represents the contribution made by China to the world, and helps exemplify China’s effort in promoting the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.
Mr Chairman, Professor Hao Ping is a conscientious and assiduous academic. An upright educator who has always devoted himself selflessly to higher education and the nation at large, he champions innovation while treading a practical path for Peking University, marking him as one of those typical Peking University alumni that are known to be happy and ready to shoulder heavy responsibilities for both the academia and the country. In order to commend Professor Hao for his outstanding contributions to the academia and the country, Mr Chairman, it is my privilege to present to you Professor Hao Ping for the award of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.