Announcement of the Conferment of Honorary Degrees on Professor Binglin Zhong, Academician Jingtang He, Professor Henry T. Yang and Doctor Ada Yonath
Ref. No : LCHG-ANG9P7Posted by :LavaniaChang/UMAC
Department :AAOPosted Date : 19/06/2017
Category :

Dear Colleagues and Students,

The University Council (UC) agreed at its 3rd meeting of this academic year to the conferment of honorary degrees proposed by the UC members and the Senate. It was agreed to confer Doctor of Education honoris causa degree on Professor Binglin Zhong, Doctor of Science honoris causa degree on Academician Jingtang He, Doctor of Science honoris causa degree on Professor Henry T. Yang and Doctor of Science honoris causa degree on Doctor Ada Yonath. In accordance with Item 2 of Article 13 and Sub-item 13) of Item 1 of Article 18 of the Charter of the University of Macau, the UC recommended to the Chancellor of the University the four candidates for the award of honorary degrees. The Chancellor approved, on 12 June 2017, the above proposal for the conferment of honorary degrees.

To recognise and celebrate the outstanding achievements of the four honorary degree recipients in their areas, the University will hold a ceremony for the conferment of honorary degrees by the end of this year.

Yours sincerely,

Ka-Veng Yuen
Secretary, Honorary Degrees and Titles Committee

Introduction to the Four Honorary Degree Recipients

Professor Binglin Zhong

A renowned educationist, Professor Binglin Zhong has done a great job for education in many ways: nurturing talent, and promoting higher education policy and research. Besides spearheading a raft of significant education programmes in Chinese mainland, he also works hard to foster inter-regional educational collaboration and exchange. He holds a slew of titles, but being called plainly a ‘teacher’ is perhaps what he prizes above everything else.

Born in Beijing in 1951, Professor Zhong graduated in 1977 from Nanjing Institute of Technology – now Southeast University – where he also received a Master’s degree in Engineering in 1987. He obtained a PhD degree from the University of Wales in 1994. In the same year, he was appointed vice president of Southeast University. In 1996, he was director-general of the Department of Higher Education at the Ministry of Education (MOE) where he initiated reforms in higher education in many aspects: the governance, curriculum and teaching, as well as the quality assurance of bachelor’s degrees.

From 2001 to 2012, Professor Zhong was president of Beijing Normal University whose motto is ‘education for enlightenment; education for exemplary conduct’. The pursuit of excellence in the focused areas, the re-examination of educational theories and the positioning of the university in its direction of development were all the milestone events that took place under his presidency. He transformed the university into a comprehensive research university where teacher education, educational science and the fundamental arts and science courses are what gives a distinct character to the university.

In spite of his hectic administration, Professor Zhong still stays committed to research, teaching and supervising master and PhD students. He has also published his works extensively, with more than 80 papers featuring in such academic journals as Educational Research, Journal of Higher Education and China Higher Education. Professor Zhong serves as honorary vice president at Cardiff University, honorary professor at Aalborg University in Denmark and non-local member of the Hong Kong Council for Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications. Currently, he is president of the Chinese Society of Education, a position he has held since 2012.

Professor Zhong has significant contribution to the development of higher education. He served as director-general of the Department of Higher Education at MOE. Under his presidency between 2001 and 2012, Beijing Normal University was commissioned by Chinese government agencies to run the first training course for Chinese teachers in Macao primary and secondary schools. Professor Zhong and Doctor Fernando Sai On Chui, the then Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, were the speakers on that occasion. Professor Zhong is currently president of the Chinese Society of Education, honorary vice president at Cardiff University, and professor at Beijing Normal University. He received the honorary degree of Doctor of Education from the Education University of Hong Kong, and the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from the Open University of Hong Kong.

Academician Jingtang He

Born in April 1938 in Dongguan, Guangdong province, Academician Jingtang He is a renowned architect and billed as the ‘Master of campus architecture’. Apart from being a professor, supervisor of doctoral students and dean of School of Architecture and director of the Architectural Design and Research Institute of the South China University of Technology (SCUT), Academician He has also numerous professional titles tucked under his belt: academician of Chinese Academy of Engineering, national grade 1 registered architect, vice chairman of the Architectural Society China and director of the Education and Architecture Academic Committee under the Society, member of the expert panel of the Academic Degree Committee under the State Council, vice president of Guangdong Provincial Association for Science and Technology, and president of Guangdong Registered Architects Association.

Academician He’s masterpieces include: Shenzhen Science Museum, Western Han Nanyue King Tomb Museum, the Memorial Hall of the Victims in Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders, the China Agricultural University Gymnasium (used as the wrestling venue for the Beijing Olympic), etc. In more than two decades, Academician He has overseen or designed over 200 major projects: Guangzhou International Finance Center, Canton Fair complex, Metro Plaza I, China Mayors Plaza, Guangdong Olympic Stadium, Foshan Century Lotus Stadium, etc. are just some of his masterpieces.

As the architect presented with the most awards since the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, Academician He is best known for his celebrated China pavilion for the Shanghai World Expo 2010, and he is named the ‘Father of the China pavilion’ for that reason. He has received over 100 outstanding design awards from different ministries and commissions, as well as the awards of the provincial and national levels. In 2001, Academician He was crowned with China’s most prestigious architectural title – the first National Liang Sicheng Architecture Prize. He was also the only architect on the list of ‘The Ten Most Powerful People in Industries’ compiled by China Engineering and Consulting Association on the 60th anniversary of China.

As one of those pivotal figures who undertake to promote traditional Chinese architecture, Academician He has a passion for the exquisite South China Lingnan architectural features which he has been working hard to preserve and sustain since the 60s of the last century. He secured his guru status in architecture when, on the back of traditional Lingnan aesthetics, he formulated creatively his own theoretical system. Signified by what is known as the ‘two concepts’ and ‘three characters’, the theory gave a shot in the arm for the Lingnan school of architecture.

His world-inspiring masterpieces include the China pavilion at Shanghai World Expo 2010, the expansion project of the Memorial Hall of the Victims in Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders, Tianjin Museum, the Qian Xuesen Library and Museum, the China Agricultural University Gymnasium, the Beijing University of Technology Gymnasium (used as the badminton venue for the Beijing Olympic), and other national landmarks. In addition, he spearheaded almost 200 campus design projects, such as the second campus community of the Guangzhou Higher Education Mega Center, Zhejiang University, Wuhan University, Chongqing University, the National University of Defense Technology, Zhengzhou University and Shanghai University.

What makes it particularly relevant to our case is that he was the architect-in-chief of the Hengin campus of the University of Macau. He applied five principles (‘people-oriented’, ‘sustainable’, ‘modern and digital’, ‘garden-style’, and ‘featuring Chinese and western cultures’) to build a comfortable, energy-efficient and green campus.

Thanks to Academician He’s efforts, architecture as a scientific discipline took a big step forward. His project on the State Key Laboratory of Subtropical Building Science marks another ground-breaking advancement of architectural studies in China.

Professor Henry T. Yang

Professor Yang was named UC Santa Barbara’s (UCSB) fifth chancellor in 1994. Before that, he was the Neil A. Armstrong Distinguished Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Purdue University, where he also had served as dean of the College of Engineering for ten years.

Professor Yang is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the American Society for Engineering Education, and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He has received a raft of titles in recognition of his achievement in research, teaching, and public service, including seven honorary doctorates and the Benjamin Garver Lamme Medal from the American Society of Engineering Education. In 2008 he received the Structures, Structural Dynamics, and Materials Award from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

He currently chairs the international Thirty Meter Telescope project, and serves on the Kavli Foundation Board. He was chair of the Association of American Universities and the Association of Pacific Rim Universities, and served for two terms as a presidential appointee to the President’s Committee on the National Medal of Science. He also served on the scientific advisory boards of the Department of Defense, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, NASA, and the National Science Foundation.

Professor Yang specializes in aerospace structures, structural dynamics, composite materials, finite elements, transonic aeroelasticity, wind and earthquake structural engineering, and intelligent manufacturing systems. He wrote or co-wrote more than 170 articles in science journals, as well as authored a widely used textbook on finite element structural analysis. He supervised 54 PhD and 20 master’s students. He is still teaching an undergraduate course, as well as supervising three PhD students who are funded by the National Science Foundation. In 2007 he received an honorary distinguished teaching award from UCSB’s Academic Senate.

He and his wife, Dilling Yang, now live on the campus of UCSB. Dilling is devoting her time to doing voluntary work for the university. In 2001, Henry and Dilling were named honorary alumni of UCSB.

In 1994 Professor Yang, a world renowned structural engineer, beat the other 150 applicants to become the chancellor of the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) and has been in the position since then.

Apart from his brilliant academic achievements, Professor Yang is undoubtedly one of the great educationists in higher education of the United States. He is regarded being in the same league as Charles Eliot, the president of Harvard University from 1869 to 1909 who famously turned it into a world top university as we know it today.

One of Professor Yang’s remarkable points is his extraordinary ability to spot talent. For example, when he foresaw the potential application of “heterostructure” materials, such as LEDs, he lost no time in recruiting two outstanding scientists, Herbert Kroemer and Shouji Nakamura, for the study, both of whom would later win Nobel Prizes in Physics. So thanks to his shrewd observation, he virtually transformed UCSB into a world hub of this field of study by drawing a bevy of top researchers from around the world.

Knowing soundly how to run a public university, Professor Yang adopts ‘education for the elites’ as its educational ideal in sync with ‘education for the masses’, the latter of which being the ideal nearly all public universities worldwide cleave to. His 22 years of chancellorship – which is still going as strong as ever – has not only transformed UCSB from a relatively obscure university in the 80’s to a 21st century world class comprehensive education powerhouse, but also enhanced what was already the high visibility of the other 10 University of California campuses. All of them have now become a model of higher education system for the world.

Last but not least, Professor Yang has offered invaluable help and advice to the University of Macau by serving on its International Advisory Board. The award of the degree will make us forge a closer connection with him, which will definitely add tonic to our pursuit of excellence.

Doctor Ada Yonath

Doctor Yonath was born in Jerusalem. She studied at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, received a PhD degree from the Weizmann Institute of Science, and completed her postdoctoral studies at Carnegie Mellon University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States. In the early 1970s, she established the first laboratory for protein crystallography in Israel, which in almost a decade to come, was the only laboratory of its kind in the country.

Doctor Yonath is an Israeli crystallographer best known for her pioneering work on the structure of ribosome. Since the end of the 1970s, she has been researching on the elucidation of the process of protein biosynthesis. She aimed to determine the three-dimensional structure of ribosome, which would reveal the mechanisms underlying protein biosynthesis. Crystals are the necessary elements to ascertain the spatial structure of ribosome at molecular level; however, the crystal of ribosome is extremely difficult to obtain. Doctor Yonath developed a method to produce the initial microcrystals of ribosome in a short time using ribosome from bacteria living in extreme environments. Furthermore, she also introduced cryo-crystallography, the technique that is widely used in structural biology labs around the world today. In 2000 and 2001, the three-dimensional structures of both subunits of the bacterial ribosome were completed and published.

In 2009, she became the first Israeli woman out of her ten compatriot Nobel laureates to receive the Nobel Prize in Chemistry along with Venkatraman Ramakrishnan and Thomas A. Steitz for her studies on the structure and function of ribosome. She was also the first woman in 45 years to win the Chemistry Prize.

Doctor Yonath was awarded the honorary doctorates by almost all of Israeli universities; Fuzhou University and Xiamen University, China; the Baptist University and the City University of Hong Kong; the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom; New York University and Mount Sinai Universities, USA; the University of Hamburg, Germany; The University of Patras, Greece; the University of Oslo, Norway; the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization, Japan.

She is the current director of the Helen and Milton A. Kimmelman Center for Biomolecular Structure and Assembly of the Weizmann Institute of Science.

Doctor Yonath shared the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Venkatraman Ramakrishnan and Thomas A. Steitz for their studies on the structure and function of ribosomes, which are the tiny particles made up of RNA and proteins. These ribosomes specialize in protein synthesis and are found free from or bound to the endoplasmic within cells.

Doctor Yonath focuses on the mechanisms underlying protein biosynthesis by ribosomal crystallography, a research line she pioneered over twenty years ago despite considerable skepticism of the international scientific community at the time. Ribosomes translate RNA into protein and because they have slightly different structures in microbes from eukaryotes, such as human cells, they are often a target for antibiotics. Twenty years later, by determining the structures of both ribosomal subunits from eubacteria that serve as pathogen models, she elucidated the functions of several antibiotics targeting ribosomes.

Her research results made a great contribution to the medical profession. Some pathogens are resistant to antibiotics, thus making those antibiotics lose their effectiveness against bacterial infections. Therefore, sustaining its efficaciousness is a very important task for medical scientists. And Doctor Yonath’s research to develop and perfect these drugs decidedly serves that purpose.

Doctor Yonath was born in Jerusalem in 1939. She entered the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and obtained a Bachelor of Science in chemistry in 1962 and a Master of Science in biochemistry in 1964 before earning a PhD degree in X-Ray crystallography in 1968 at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot.

After she had moved to America, Doctor Yonath began her academic and research careers with the Carnegie Mellon University and MIT together with F.A. Cotton and the 1976 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, Harvard Professor William Lipscomb Jr. From 1979 to 1984 she was a group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin and headed their research unit in Hamburg from 1986 to 2004 as well as the Mazar Center of Structural Biology (1988-2004). She has been a professor at the Weizmann Institute of Science since 1988, heading the Kimmelman Center for Biomolecular Structure and Assembly since 1989.

Doctor Yonath was elected a member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities in 2000 and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 2003. In addition to the Nobel Prize, she received many other honours and awards throughout her career, including the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize for Biology or Biochemistry in 2005, the Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize in 2007, and the Albert Einstein World Award of Science in 2008.

Doctor Yonath was one of the Nobel Laureate speakers of the Macau Symposium on Biomedical Sciences 2015 organized by the Faculty of Health Science (FHS) of the University of Macau. She is currently a member of the advisory board of the FHS and was a member of the University of Macau International Advisory Committee from 1 September 2015 to 31 August 2016.

Because of her great contribution to science as recognized by her winning of the Nobel Prize, we would like therefore to propose Doctor Yonath for the honorary doctoral degree.