Yang Lili, Dean of Shude College: creating a new starting point for undergraduates
Chris Edwards | 10/01/2019

When the autumnal winds blew through the campus of Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) at the beginning of the new semester, Shude College welcomed in a new dean. Mathematics Professor Yang Lili has served as a tutor in Shude College since she arrived at SUSTech in December 2016, and plans to use her administrative acumen to contribute to both Shude College and SUSTech.

Professor Yang Lili has significant teaching experience at top universities in the United Kingdom, including stints at the University of Derby and Loughborough University London. While in the UK, she received funding from significant organizations across Europe, including the European Union, the British Ministry of Defense and the British National Engineering and Natural Science Foundation. Yang Lili had also given lectures at the British Cabinet Office to senior government officials and provided numerous media interviews to the BBC. With more than 100 papers and three books published, she is a renowned scientist and has served as a reviewer of several academic journals & funding institutions across Europe and China.

She recalled the camaraderie at SUSTech in her first days on campus, when the New Years Eve party was in full swing. “When I was walking through campus with my husband, everyone was outside under the big banyan tree, with laughter filling the air like a family. I had been away from China for more than 20 years, yet I now felt that I was home.”

Creating a community at college

In the eyes of Yang Lili, the residential colleges are not just a place to live and study, but an interactive community. She is committed to the multi-dimensional growth of all the students by providing a fulsome spread of activities and comforts beyond the classroom.

As a life tutor at Shuli College, Yang Lili had always cared for her students as if they were her children, gently guiding them through the initial stages of their time at SUSTech. She encourages them to master their learning methods, before working out their strengths, in order to lay the foundations for their future careers. With her advice, students adapt to university life quickly, and rapidly find their own directions.

Under the leadership of Yang Lili and her predecessor, Shude College has been known for its warm college community. Students from all walks of life have enjoyed different festivals and activities as part of the culture that has developed within Shude College.

Yang Lili has long believed in the importance of providing outlets for students to express themselves. “Shude College has developed an all-encompassing training plan that allows students to realize their own growth potential, so within the four years of their lives at SUSTech, the students of Shude College help develop into warm and enthusiastic men and women.”

Shude College students are not just rigorous scientists and engineers, but are also culturally enlightened and athletically inclined. Major events run by Shude College have become calling cards in the lead-up to Commencement each year that give students an opportunity to express themselves at one of the most stressful times of the year.

In line with SUSTech’s broader goals for the development of its talent pipelines, Shude College runs a series of academically and career minded lectures throughout the year, in order to give students an insight into life after university. Scientists, entrepreneurs, activists and outstanding graduates have all spoken at different lecture events for Shude College, cultivating ideas for their students.

To encourage innovative practices, Shude College worked with the Office of Student Affairs to establish the Maker Workshop, which has seen the 3D Printing Agency, the Artinx Robot Team and the Model Company settle in. The Maker Workshop has received funding and resources from the Science, Technology and Innovation Commission of Shenzhen, Huawei and DJI.

Like the other residential colleges of SUSTech, Shude College encourages its students to partake in social responsible practices like public service and volunteering. These practices have seen students travel across the country to help the less fortunate and learn more about their country from different perspectives, which allows them to rethink preconceived notions they had previously held. Such character building exercises go some way to showing why Shude College encourages independence and truth in its students.

An international vision for its students

Given her vast international experience, Yang Lili has a significant understanding of the nuanced differences between eastern and western culture, and thus the differences between Chinese and foreign students. Communication can be a challenge, so Yang Lili points out to her students, “International students are usually very self-aware, while Chinese students tend to struggle when it comes to their interpersonal relationships, communication and independence.”

To combat this challenge, SUSTech and the residential colleges offer numerous platforms for international communications and education. It is always the hope that students will take full advantage of these resources in their four years of undergraduate studies.

An example of this is the recent international maker exchange program between Shude College and Wentworth Institute of Technology (WIT). As the first year of its implementation, it is hoped that it will foster strong innovative and entrepreneurial thinking among scientific and technologically minded students. The program focused on students’ interdisciplinary thinking in conjunction with their basic computer science and engineering skills. 6 students traveled from Shenzhen to the United States over the summer vacation to take part in the program, in which significant results were achieved in the form of improved programming skills.

Future plans for Shude College

Talking about the future of Shude College, Yang Lili is not afraid to reflect on the work of her predecessors. She believes that she was left with a residential college in an excellent position, so she will continue to tweak it in order to bring it to its best. Yang Lili wants to use the mission of Shude College to maximize the advantages that the tutors provide in training students to find their own paths in life.

The short-term plans are very clear for Yang Lili. She focuses on the “four firsts,” as they are the first day, the first week, the first semester and the first year. These are traditionally the toughest times for any new student, so concentrating on the transition from high school into university in steps like this are keys to making life easy for each batch of new undergraduate students.

In the medium term, Yang Lili wants to concentrate on the comprehensive development of her students throughout Shude College. She wants to develop a better understanding of the needs of undergraduate students, in order to play a proactive role in preventing problems before they become significant issues. Such a positive and practical approach would further boost the image of SUSTech across the country and around the world.

Shude College has two long-term projects that focus on students overall development to prepare them to be the future leaders needed for the new era. She will continue to work on these projects in order to further refine and cultivate the philosophy of Shude College, ultimately developing a rich cultural heritage for Shude College.

Yang Lili has always been warm and loving to others. She will extend her warmth and experience to other areas to ensure every student can develop into the future leader for the new era. “University is a new starting point for people to developing talent and career achievements. All aspects of your life start here. I wish you all success!”

2019, 10-01
By Chris Edwards

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Translated and Adapted By SUSTech Newshub

Proofread ByXia Yingying

Photo ByWang Kaiqiang, Qiu Yan

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