Academician Li Wei, Former President of Beihang University, was awarded the 2017 Annual Scientific Chinese Outstanding President Award which was unveiled in Beijing recently.
The Annual Outstanding Personality Awards, launched by the Scientific Chinese magazine in 2002, have been presented to many outstanding scientists, education administrators and education entrepreneurs including Yuan Longping, Yang Zhengning, Gu Binglin, Shi Changxu, Tu Youyou, etc. Among the awards, the Annual Scientific Chinese Outstanding President Award is granted to only one person each year.
Li Wei served as the president of Beihang University from 2002 to 2009. To promote the transformation of higher education from elite education to popular education in China, he innovatively planned the reform and development of the university, actively explored the effective ways of comprehensively improving the quality of education in a university of science and engineering, and strived to promote Beihang university to become an internationally well-known research university, laying good foundation for Beihang’s sustained and rapid development in the next decades.
Li Wei dedicated himself to the academic research to better serve the country and the university. As a computer scientist, he became the director of State Key Laboratory of Software Development Environment, one of the national key laboratories of the first batch built in Beihang, and the youngest member of the Academic Degrees Committee of the State Council when he returned to China after receiving his PhD degree from University of Edinburgh. In his early research on concurrent programming languages (CPL), Prof. Li introduced structural operational semantics about synchronization, communication, and exception handling for Ada and other practical CPL and established the theory of correctness for translation between different CPL, which pioneered the comparative study of CPL. He has been working on the formalization of processes of scientific discovery for more than a decade and established a formal system, called R-calculus, which can automatically revise scientific theories or knowledge bases in an optimized way when conclusions predicted by the theories or bases are refuted by facts of experiments and observations. He has also developed the theory of limits for version sequences of knowledge bases and proposed the formalism of proschemes to describe and control the evolution of scientific theories or knowledge bases.
Li Wei also devoted himself to accomplishing his own duties to build a first-class university. In the beginning of his administration as President of Beihang in 2002, based on the analysis of China's economic and social characteristics and the development law of higher education, he proposed that “first-class universities should make historic contributions”, and the way to achieve this goal was “to meet the country's strategic needs”. He also focused on talent cultivation and adjusted the training objectives to “cultivate innovative leaders for China's strategic emerging industries”. During his seven years of administration, Beihang’s eight disciplines were elected as national key first-level disciplines, listing 7th among universities in China; In terms of research projects and funding, Beihang ranked among the top 10 universities and its per capita research funding ranked among the top 3 universities in China; Beihang’s state key laboratories were also developed from 3 to 6, and 28 provincial and ministerial laboratories were also established. During 2004 to 2010, Beihang was awarded 3 First Prizes of National Science & Technology Progress Award, 4 First Prizes of National Invention Award, 32 State Science and Technology Awards, and also 182 provincial and ministerial level honors.
Li Wei emphasized undergraduate education, and he proposed that “undergraduate education was the foundation of university”. He personally guided the establishment of Honors College of Beihang Unversity (now renamed as ShenYuan Honors College of Beihang Unversity). According to the principle of “experiments before promotion”, he continuously accumulated experiences and gradually extended the undergraduate teaching reform measures to various colleges. Through years of efforts, Beihang improved steadily in undergraduate teaching quality, and the graduate employment rate kept above 98%. Besides, the proportion of undergraduates to graduate students increased from 28% in 2002 to 62% in 2011, and one out of every four undergraduate students in average won the national/provincial undergraduate contest award.
Li Wei was always committed to building Beihang into a modern comprehensive university characterized by aerospace and information. When he stepped down as president, Beihang had established another four science schools and six humanities and social sciences schools, and some relevant disciplines had become competitive. For him, however, this was only a start and there was still a long way to go.
Reported by Yu Min and Xu Yi
Edited by Yu Min and Lyu Xingyun
Translated by Lyu Xingyun