Earlier this week, President Susan Hockfield led an MIT delegation to Asia, visiting three countries in five days to meet with friends and collaborators of the Institute and strengthen ties with this important region.
The trip’s cornerstone was the groundbreaking ceremony for the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), Singapore’s new publicly funded university established in collaboration with MIT. Formally announced in January 2010, the collaboration will have MIT share its expertise with SUTD in a broad range of areas, including pedagogy, curriculum development, faculty recruitment and development, and programs to promote innovation and entrepreneurship.
In her speech at the groundbreaking, Hockfield expressed admiration for Singapore’s intellectual vibrancy and commitment to an innovation-based economy.
“SUTD represents a bold, visionary attempt to ensure a brilliant future for Singapore, by designing a new kind of institution to advance its ambitions,” she said. “At MIT, we are honored to be part of designing this dream — and building this reality.” She added that she was looking forward to seeing “hundreds of faculty, staff and student exchanges” between the two institutions in the coming years.
Along with Thomas Magnanti, Institute Professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management and the new president of SUTD, and Yang Wei, president of Zhejiang University, Hockfield spoke on a panel addressing universities’ role in technology and the innovation economy.
Also in Singapore, Hockfield visited the new campus of the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology, or SMART, the collaboration between the Institute and the National Research Foundation of Singapore. There, she heard from faculty, postdocs and students about the variety of interdisciplinary research taking place. She also met with the country’s newly elected president, Tony Tan SM ’64.
Before arriving in Singapore, Hockfield spent a day each in two other places with strong ties to the Institute: Japan and Taiwan.
During her visit to Japan, Hockfield met with friends of the Institute and spoke at the MIT-Japan 100th Anniversary Alumni Dinner. The event commemorated the centennial of the MIT Association of Japan, which, with 1,900 members, is the Institute’s largest alumni group outside the United States.
In her remarks, Hockfield emphasized the strong tradition of friendship between Japan and the Institute, citing historical examples — MISTI, or MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives, had its inaugural program in Japan — as well as more recent ones, such as the 3.11 Initiative, MIT’s contribution to long-term relief efforts and disaster-resiliency planning in the aftermath of the March earthquake and tsunami. She thanked alumni for their continued support and ambassadorship.
“Although we may be divided by thousands of miles and countless time zones, we are all united in our commitment to MIT’s values and mission,” she said.
Hockfield also highlighted the efforts of Richard Samuels, the Ford International Professor of Political Science, who had been recognized earlier in the week with the Japanese government’s Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star for exceptional civil service. Samuels has served as vice chair of the National Research Council’s Committee on Japan and chair of the Japan-US Friendship Commission.
“I speak for all at MIT when I express our great pride of the deep bonds [Samuels] has forged between MIT and Japan,” Hockfield said.
In Taipei, Hockfield met with close friends and collaborators of the Institute and toured the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the world’s first and largest semiconductor foundry.
“President Hockfield’s recent trip strongly supports MIT’s growing engagements with East Asia,” said Philip Khoury, associate provost and Ford International Professor of History. “I anticipate more such visits in the months and years ahead.”