Posted by Rob Knies

Rick Rashid (right) receives honorary degree from Jianguo Hou of USTC 

On four occasions over the past 30 years, the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) has presented honorary doctoral degrees to esteemed individuals.

Such recognition, which requires national accreditation, is conferred to honor a distinguished visitor’s contributions to a specific field or to society in general.

The three previous honorees were Nobel Physics Laureates: Samuel Chao Chung Ting, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1976; Abdus Salam, the 1979 winner of that award; and Gerardus ‘t Hooft, who won the Nobel Physics honor in 1999.

The fourth, presented Nov. 1 in the Student Center of the East Campus of USTC, went to Rick Rashid, founder of Microsoft Research.

During an afternoon ceremony in Hefei, China, Shulin Zhang, university vice president, read the consent letter to award Rashid the honorary doctoral degree. After that, Jianguo Hou, USTC president, presented the honorary doctoral certificate to Rashid.

“It’s an honor to award Dr. Rick Rashid a USTC honorary doctoral degree,” Hou said, “for his great contributions to the field of computer science and talent cultivation of computer science in China.

“From now on,” Hou added, “USTC has one more famous alumnus in the world.”

It was the first time in nine years that the award had been bestowed.

Rashid, a member of the National Academy of Engineering and winner of the IEEE Emanuel R. Piore Award in 2008, expressed his appreciation for the honor and then gave a talk entitled The Role of Basic Research in Innovation—A Look Back and a Look Forward, during which he shared his insights from more than 40 years of research experience and discussed the value of basic research, both now and for the foreseeable future.

Earlier that day, he had delivered the opening keynote during Microsoft Research Asia’s 15th Computing in the 21st Century Conference.

Rashid also sent a message to current computer-science students, during an interview with the USTC News Center.

“In different fields,” he said, “everyone must think hard about where the frontiers are and look forward to the opportunity to push the state of the art.”

USTC and Microsoft Research Asia have enjoyed close, friendly relations since 1998, when Rashid founded the lab, based in Beijing. Their successful collaborative partnership has focused on three areas of cooperation: talent cultivation, scientific research, and academic exchanges.

That partnership will continue, Hou suggested during the presentation festivities.

“We expect that this award ceremony will be a milestone,” Hou stated, “and open a new page in our cooperation.”