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Being excellent, WHUers’ duty in the new era--President Dou Xiankang’s address at 2018 undergraduate opening ceremony
Author:Dou Xiankang  Date:2018-10-15  Clicks:

President Dou Xiankang

Dear students,

Good morning!

It gives me much pleasure to be with you today for your opening ceremony. With its rapid development, Wuhan University is increasingly beloved by middle school students. This year, Wuhan University welcomes new comers of unprecedented high quality. We educators feel most delighted to gather talents far and wide and provide them with best education. As the president of Wuhan University, I’m so pleased to meet all of you, new residents of Luojia Mountain and the most outstanding youths. So on behalf of the students and faculty, I’d like to extend my sincere thanks and regards to your loving parents who have been by your side and devoted teachers who have instructed you heart and soul in your previous study.

Honored as the most beautiful campus in China, Wuhan University is also hailed as a prestigious university rooted in profound humanities and in persistent pursuit of excellence. Over the past 125 years, WHU has been a cradle of many talents of various occupations, including over 100 Academicians of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Chinese Academy of Engineering, literati, business elites, and industry mainstays. Zall Stadium, where we stand now, was donated by the 8th Outstanding Alumnus Yan Zhi. Other buildings donated by the alumni include Wanlin Art Museum, Dangdai Building for postgraduate education, and Zhenhua Building for humanities teaching and research. Each donated building and each established scholarship reflect their affections towards WHU and also demonstrate WHU’s achievement in talent training. In recent years, WHU ranks high in training winners of the National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars and Outstanding Youth Science Foundation, which also indicates WHUers’ excellence. Now, with you such excellent freshmen being part of us, I’m expecting with great confidence a more promising WHU.

The prestige of a university comes from its knowledgeable masters, while its prosperity lies in its excellent students. A university should remain committed to nurturing top talents with best education resources. For years WHU has stuck to such idea of schooling, namely, talent-oriented and undergraduate-rooted education.

We promise to provide you superior learning conditions. University is the place where we are to search for the truth. In recent years, we have made great efforts to help students develop their talents. For instance, a new model of specialty-free cultivation of undergraduates has been piloted. After the first-year courses, students can choose their specific majors or change their majors. We have also imported many professors, both domestic and overseas, to share their knowledge to you. In addition, a summer term or the third term of the school year provides many special courses and programs of studying abroad and exchanges in order to broaden students’ horizons and increase their international awareness. We also promote liberal education to help you explore the combination of national cultures and world civilization, as well as the relationships among humans, society and nature.

We promise to offer you excellent service and living environment. WHU is your shared home. We hope you can enjoy your life and study here, because your safety and happiness are our top concern. Thus improving accommodations remains a high priority. In recent years, we have renovated and upgraded some dormitories, canteens and gyms in a planned and phased way to high standards. With better public service, we hope you can enjoy delicious dishes in a clean canteen, rest in a comfortable dormitory, and exercise in a well-equipped gym.

We promise to create a cultural atmosphere with thorough humane care. Higher education aims to impart knowledge, and more importantly, to foster good personality. Since its establishment in 1893, Wuhan University has been renowned for its patriotic tradition, academic inheritance and beautiful campus. Furthermore, Wuhan University's centennial humanistic accumulation boils down to its succinct motto, that is, “improving oneself, advocating perseverance, seeking truth and making innovations”. Great efforts have done to achieve this goal. The organization of such academic lectures as Luojia Forum has provided a good platform to advocate the spirit of “respecting scholars and academics”. Besides, Wuhan University fully releases the educating potential of such historical and cultural architectures as the Former Residence of Zhou Enlai and the History Museum (the Old Library of WHU) to evoke students’ devotion to the school and the nation as a whole. Furthermore, students can develop themselves in an all around way by participating the campus clubs and cultural activities, such as the Golden Autumn Arts Festival and Dragon Boat Competition.

Our historical mission is to build Wuhan University into a prestigious one of world-class. And for you, it’s high time that you grow into top talents and shoulder the responsibility of rejuvenating the Chinese nation. President Xi attaches great importance to the growth of young generation in the new era. At the conference of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Chinese Academy of Engineering, President Xi said, “Young people are the prospect of our country, hope of nation, and future of innovation. Where there is young generation with ideals, skills and responsibilities, there is a promising future of science and technology, and an innovation-driven country.” The global landscape and trend of the times call for talents to undertake the historical mission to build a powerful nation through the development of science and technology. The objective of talent cultivation in Wuhan University is to cultivate role models, social elites and national backbones. I hope all WHUers can, on your own initiative, make excellence your duty in the new era. 

First, the duty of being excellent requires your dedication to serve the country. WHU’s centurial history records numerous touching stories about sacrifice and dedication. For instance, after graduating from Cornell University in 1920, the famous physicist Professor Gui Zhiting returned to the devastated China with the belief that “science saves the nation”. He braved the Japanese artillery fire to detect the geomagnetic and ionosphere, and established China's first ionosphere and radio wave propagation laboratory in Wuhan University, which was then moved westward to the Leshan Mountain. Professor Gui’s achievement has launched China's geospatial exploration. Another case is Professor Su Xuelin, one of the "three heroines of Wuhan University”. She wrote many essays to accuse the crimes of the aggressors, and even donated all her savings to our citizens and soldiers suffering the Japanese aggression. The volatile period has witnessed countless WHUers’ deep love and responsibility towards the nation. As a member of the young generation, everyone of you present is obliged to strive for the prosperity of the country and the renewal of the nation. I hope that you uphold your aspirations in persistent pursuit for great wisdom. But a mere promise to serve the country is far from enough. It’s essential to acquire actual knowledge and develop abilities from now on.

Second, the duty of being excellent calls for an inquisitive mind. A thorough inquiry requires truth-seeking spirits, independent and critical thinking, as well as innovative and concentrated research. Without an inquisitive mind, the mystery of human beings and the laws of society can never be discovered. Have you heard the "spaghetti phenomenon"? Dry spaghetti is usually not broken into two pieces, but three or more. Maybe everyone has noticed it, but may never think about the reason. However, this phenomenon aroused the interest of several teachers and students at MIT. They found that the second wave of spaghetti during the bending process is the key factor leading to its fragmentation. The research result can also be applied to the control of engineering nanotubes and microtubules. As you can see, a trivial phenomenon finally became a catalyst for scientific progress, and this should attribute to an inquisitive mind. During your campus years in WHU, never forget to develop meticulous and scientific attitude, independent and critical thinking, as well as creativity and innovation. Just advance toward the path of cutting-edge science, and strive to promote the transformation of new technologies, new methods and new models!

Third, the duty of being excellent demands wider international horizons. Wuhan University is known for its openness and inclusiveness. WHUers are diligent students who develop well outside classroom with a sincere concern towards the society and a wide international vision. Some of your seniors have great sympathy for the disadvantaged groups, and have set up public welfare organizations such as “Magic Classroom” and “Qingquan Plan”, aiming to apply their knowledge in helping those in need. Some others have shown their international horizons in the internship in international organizations, where they have been contributing themselves to the world’s peace and development. The present era is characterized by frequent international exchanges, close cooperation, and shared human community. Your own interest could by no means the single focus. Please look into the future with a wider global horizon, so as to live a more wonderful life along the trend of the times.

In 1929, the former President of WHU Wang Shijie once said, "Wuhan University is established to be the one with lofty ideals and of the first-class standard." Nowadays, the schooling goal is made clear, which is making WHU a responsible and student-oriented institute with respect to academics and pursuit of excellence. Excellence is a personality of WHU and a cultural totem inscribed in the heart of generations of WHUers, and a traditional legacy treasured by all its descendants. The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle once said, “Make excellence a habit.” I hope, in the coming days, all of you can pursue excellence and shoulder the responsibilities of the times, since WHUers are always vanguards, pioneers and leaders of the era!

In closing, I wish you a pleasant journey in Wuhan University!

(Rewritten by Liang Guoying, Edited by Zheng Lingling, Shen Yuxi, Hu Sijia)


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