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Honorary Degree Orations


Professor Dr Zhan Tao

Public Orator, Professor Chris Linton presented the Honorary Graduand at the Degree Ceremony held on Friday 20 July at 10.30am

Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, new graduates, Ladies & Gentlemen.

Shandong University is situated in the city of Jinan (the capital of Shandong province) in Eastern China and in 2001 it was listed as a national key university by the Chinese Ministry of Education. In 2003, President Tao Zhan from Shandong and Sir David Wallace from Loughborough signed an agreement setting up a joint PhD programme in stochastic analysis (a branch of mathematics dealing with the study of random processes). This programme has been a great success and the first graduate, Chunrong Feng, will receive her degree during the second half of this ceremony.

However, the connection between our two Universities and with Tao Zhan in particular goes back much further. In 1987, Dr Peter Shiu, a mathematician from Loughborough who works in number theory, visited Shandong and Tao Zhan, a young researcher and also a number theorist, was assigned to look after him. By all accounts his skills as a guide matched his academic abilities and he managed to arrange visits that were not part of the standard itinerary. I am informed that at one point he was reprimanded for his "unreasonable initiative"!

Clearly his actions did him no long-term harm as, following 2 years as an Alexander von Humboldt fellow in Germany, he was promoted to the position of Professor of Mathematics at Shandong University in 1993. In 1995 his meteroic rise continued when he took up office as vice-president of the University and he became president of Shandong University in July 2000, when only 37 (at the time, the youngest ever Chinese university president). He is now a standing member of the Chinese Association of Mathematics, deputy director of the Young Scientist Association of China, standing member of the All China Youth Federation, vice-president of Shandong Youth Federation, and board chairman of Shandong Association of Mathematics. There are no doubt more.

The most distinguished Chinese mathematician of the 20th century was probably Hua Loo-Keng, who returned to China from the United States in 1951 to help train the next generation of mathematcians in the new People's Republic. One of his students was Pan Cheng-Dong who in turn supervised Tao Zhan's PhD. So the person before you today has an illustrious academic ancestry. As President of Shandong University, and in part through his connections with Loughborough and other Universities world-wide, he is now fostering the education of future generations of Chinese students and we are proud to honour him today.

Therefore, Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you and the University, Professor Dr Tao Zhan, for the degree of DOCTOR OF SCIENCE, honoris causa.


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