On the morning of December 30, 2021, the Yenching Academy of Peking University hosted a New Year party to celebrate the retirement of its former Dean, Professor Yuan Ming, and welcome its new Dean, Professor Dong Qiang. Fan Shiming and Brent Haas, Associate Deans of the Yenching Academy, among other guests and teachers from various departments of PKU, and students and alumni of YCA, were in attendance.
Associate Dean Fan Shiming served as the master of ceremony and welcomed the guests to the event, wishing everyone season’s greetings. He gave an opening remarking during which he traced the history of Professor Yuan Ming’s leadership as Dean of the Academy since February 2016, and discussed his experiences working with Professor Yuan.
Professor Yuan also gave a speech, recounting her time at the helm of the affairs at the Academy. She stressed that character, as much as academic performance, mattered here at the Yenching Academy and encouraged YCA Scholars to continue embracing good character and building cross-cultural bridges for a better world. She also thanked the incoming Dean for taking up the responsibility and reassured him of her support.
After her speech, Professor Yuan Ming was named honorary dean by the Yenching Academy, and Dean Dong issued her the letter of appointment. She will continue to guide the Academy in her new capacity. Professor Yuan also received some gifts of appreciation from the staff of the Yenching Academy, and Dean Dong gifted her a poem in calligraphy.
Next, Dean Dong took to the podium to give his remarks. He thanked Professor Yuan for her contributions and dedication to the Academy and expressed appreciation to the leadership of Peking University for the appointment, adding that he was honored to have been given the task. He recounted his study abroad experiences as a young student in France, noting that the experiences helped shape his resolve to take YCA to new heights. He explained that he knew the task ahead was tough but believed that he would perform well with the support of the YCA team and Scholars.
A representative of Yenching Scholars, Wai Yun (Joyce) Fung (2020 Scholar from Hong Kong, China), delivered a speech. She compared Yenching Academy to a land blooming with grass, flowers, and trees from all over the world. She thanks Professor Yuan for being the sunshine that has brought this land to life, and welcomed Dean Dong as the sunshine under which this land will now continue to grow and flourish, guiding Yenching Scholars from across the worldwide.
Also, a representative of the Yenching Alumni, Dickson David Agbaji (2019 Scholar from Nigeria), delivered a remark. He expressed his appreciation to Professor Yuan for her efforts at the Academy and support to Scholars during the pandemic. He called her a leader and mother who catered for Yenching Scholars like they were her own, backing their ideas and plans during their studies at the Academy. He also welcomed Dean Dong, reassuring him of Yenching Scholars’ support and wishing him the best as he took on his new role.
Afterwards, the guests watched a compiled video message from several Yenching Alumni across the different cohorts, expressing their heartfelt praises and wishes to Professor Yuan Ming as she stepped down from the position and welcomed Professor Dong Qiang as the new Dean.
Several guests were also called onto the podium to give their remarks. They expressed their gratitude to Professor Yuan for teaching and inspiring many students and colleagues through her ideas and actions over the years. They shared a similar line of thought that Professor Yuan epitomized that being a good teacher is not just about teaching and research, but also about connecting people who are not necessarily in the same field and developing deep bonds and love. Likewise, they expressed their admiration for her steady mind and listening ears, adding that they always turned to her for help and counsel whenever they encountered any confusion. Finally, they noted that Professor Yuan was genuinely a “大先生” – a bona fide master with a noble spirit.
The event ended with cheers and excitement.