22ND NOVEMBER 2019 AT NEW ARTS THEATRE, UNIVERSITY OF COLOMBO

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The Inaugural Ceremony of the 11th Annual Research Symposium of the University of Colombo was held on Friday 22nd November at the New Arts Theatre, amidst a large and distinguished gathering comprising scholars across Asia, diplomats, members of the Council of the University as well as staff and students. Though academics at the University of Colombo had been engaged in research activities from the very establishment of the University, a formal event showcasing the research done was instituted only in 2008. The Annual Research Symposium therefore marked its eleventh edition this year.

Traditionally, the inaugural ceremony featured a Keynote Address on the selected theme. This year, due to the involvement of the Executives of and Vice-Chancellors of the Asian University Alliance (AUA) membership, the Keynote Address was replaced by a panel discussion on the Asian experience of research and innovation. The panel comprised Prof. Ilesanmi Adesida – Provost, Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan, Prof. Yong Zulina Zubairi – Associate Vice-Chancellor (International), University of Malaya, Malaysia, Prof. Andrew Wee – Vice President (University and Global Relations), National University of Singapore, Singapore and Prof. Yuan Si – Vice Chairperson of University Council, Tsinghua University, China. The panel was moderated by the Vice-Chancellor, University of Colombo, Senior Professor Chandrika N Wijeyaratne, who also holds, on behalf of the University, the Executive Presidency of the prestigious AUA. The panellists outlined at length the efforts taken by their various universities to transform from teaching universities to research universities and offered various insights into how university output and performance could be enhanced. The panel concluded with an interesting and engaging Q and A session.

At the inaugural ceremony, a documentary charting the progress of the University and its achievements, was played. It was followed by the launch of the official theme song of the AUA Youth Forum, titled “Ayubo Asia.” The theme song was conceptualised, written, performed and produced entirely by a team of students and staff of the University’s Sri Palee Campus. The theme chosen for the Annual Research Symposium 2019 is “Health & Wellbeing”. The theme aligns with Sustainable Development Goal 3 (Good Health and Wellbeing) of the United Nations. As such, the research projects of our academic staff will focus on how their research impacts in a positive way on the Health and Wellbeing of society. Wellbeing is an important aspect being discussed in the modern context. It takes us a step beyond merely being free of illness, and envisages a holistic view of wellness, that combines physical, mental and spiritual happiness in order to enhance the full development potential of the individual. As such, every field of study ultimately should have as its objective, the promotion of wellbeing among people. The traditional dance item for the evening’s proceedings was a part of the “Thelme” dance, believed to have healing powers, and was chosen due to its relevance to the conference theme.

The Vice-Chancellor University of Colombo, Senior Professor Chandrika Wijeyaratne, delivering the Welcome Address highlighted the importance of this year’s symposium as showcasing the university’s relationship with the best universities in Asia, and emphasized the need to elevate the performance of the University to rise even higher in global and regional rankings. The ceremony also featured the awarding of Senate Awards for research excellence among staff who have displayed exemplary research capabilities. The event drew to a close with the Vote of Thanks delivered by the Conference Chairperson Prof. Naazima Kamardeen. The Symposium dinner was held on the lawn of College House shortly thereafter. Following the inaugural ceremony, the various faculties will host their own technical sessions at which their research will be evaluated by relevant experts in their respective fields, and improved upon prior to publication. The Symposium is supported by the Ministry of Higher Education, highlighting its value in the promotion of our nation’s research and development. The University of Colombo boasts a proud history of 150 years, with its first institution, the Ceylon Medical School being established in 1870. From humble beginnings, the University has grown into the country’s foremost provider of higher education, with nine faculties, several institutes and schools that offer courses in diverse areas of learning.