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Carry forward the spirit of WHUer and become the pillars of society ——speech by President Dou Xiankang at the 2020 undergraduate opening ceremony
Author:  Date:2020-10-22  Clicks:

Dear students,

Good morning!

Today, as the president of Wuhan University, I am particularly pleased to welcome a new wave of energetic freshmen to this university with a history of over 120 years. Several months ago, when our campus was empty, I was looking forward to this exciting moment. Now, on behalf of Wuhan University, I’d like to extend my sincerest congratulations and warmest of welcomes to all of you!

The opening ceremony is a solemn occasion eagerly anticipated by each freshman. From now on, you will become a member of the big family of WHU. Traditionally, the opening ceremony used to be held a few days after the registration for freshmen. This year, due to the need for pandemic prevention and control measures, the opening ceremony had been postponed until today so that every newcomer from the various regions can attend a ceremony that belongs to all of you.


I suppose you may vividly remember that period of time. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the Chinese people, with the courage to fight for victory, have pulled together and supported each other in times of difficulty. Thanks to those endeavors, we have fostered China's great spirit in combating COVID-19 pandemic by putting people’s lives first, through nationwide solidarity, selfless sacrifice, respect for science and a shared sense of mission for humanity. We have also made major strategic achievements in the fight against COVID-19. A person without spirit cannot stand tall, and a country without spirit cannot be strong. Looking back at history, it is an invaluable national spirit that has supported the Chinese nation to get through twists and turns and go from strength to strength over 5,000 years. The more daunting the challenge, the greater the courage it has mustered. Likewise, no matter how many trials and tribulations a university has gone through, it is because of the promotion of a university’s spirit of its own that a university can stand the test of time and pursue its long-term development.

Lately, a freshman told me, "When I arrived at Wuhan University, a place I have longed for, I found it larger and even more beautiful than I had imagined." So it is. The greatness of Wuhan University lies not in its area but in its broad mind; the beauty of Wuhan University lies not in the beauty of its campus, but in the beauty of its spirit.


The beauty of WHU’s spirit lies in her love for the country

An outstanding university must be one that stands out at a time when the nation is in peril, and one that bravely shoulders the responsibility of the country's development and national rejuvenation. The Constitution of Wuhan University points out the noble aspiration of WHUers: to pursue human well-being, promote social progress, and achieve national prosperity. Over the past 127 years, ever since its founding in 1893, the development of Wuhan University has been closely linked to the fate of the Chinese nation. When the Chinese nation was in peril, WHUers endeavored to save the nation from subjugation. In those war-ridden years, WHUers gave up intellectual pursuits and joined the army, while keeping its cultural heritage alive After the founding of New China, when everything started from scratch, WHUers undertook important tasks and made great achievements. Since reform and opening-up, WHUers have stood at the forefront of the times and been bold in making innovations.


During the COVID-19 pandemic, Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University and Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University offered a total of over 10,000 beds to treat COVID-19 patients, took over several hospitals including Leishenshan Hospital and mobile cabin hospitals, and assisted Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital in treating severe and critically ill COVID-19 patients, which played a critical role in defending Wuhan and Hubei against COVID-19. WHUers not only erected a defensive rampart against the virus at the front line but also took the lead in providing strong scientific and technological support, contributing wisdom to overcoming the pandemic. In early June, Digital Science released a report on the ranking of scientific research and technological contributions on COVID-19, in which Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University and Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University ranked second and third in the world respectively. Not long ago, at the national ‘Commending Conference for the fight against COVID-19’, Wuhan University was awarded important awards such as advanced individuals, advanced collectives, national outstanding Communist Party members, and national advanced grass-roots party organizations in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. It demonstrates the Party Central Committee’s appreciation for Wuhan University’s major contributions to the battle against COVID-19.

President Xi Jinping highlighted in the symposium with scientists that although science knows no borders, scientists do have their motherland. Thanks to the continuous efforts made by generations of patriotic scientists, China has made historic achievements in science and technology. Chinese intellectuals have always been characterized by their profound love for the family and country and their sense of responsibility and mission for the fate and future of the country. This is also the characteristic spirit of WHUers passed down from generation to generation over the past century. At moments when the country is in jeopardy, there have always been WHUers coming forward and volunteering to help; at places where the country needs us most, there have always been WHUers shouldering important tasks with courage. I hope you will carry forward their sincere love for the family and country, develop a sense of patriotism, take on great responsibilities and strive to achieve national rejuvenation!


The beauty of Wuhan University’s spirit lies in her unyielding pursuit of academic achievements

A university is a place where we probe into the most profound knowledge. The nature of a university is its academic attribute, and the eternal pursuit of a university is academic innovation. This kind of academic pursuit is shown in the devotion to the cause of science, as evidenced by Professor Lan Ke’s team from the State Key Laboratory of Virology of our university. They came back to Wuhan at the most dangerous moment of the pandemic and collected samples in isolation wards, toilets in sick areas and other high-risk public places, first revealing the viral load and kinetic characteristics of environmental aerosols and providing an important scientific basis for the government’s decision on pandemic prevention and control. This kind of academic pursuit is shown in the unswerving pursuit of excellence, just like Academician Liu Jingnan’s team from the GNSS Center of our school. They tirelessly improve the accuracy of measurement and provide solid technical support for China’s Beidou Navigation Satellite System. This kind of academic pursuit is also shown in the persevering and consistent insistence in one academic area, just like the scholars from the Ancient Books Research Center represented by Professor Zong Fubang who devoted decades to compiling the magnum opuses of The Galaxy of Traditional Semantic Annotations and The Galaxy of Ancient Phonology. In their minds, “It is worthwhile for one’s whole life to have one work that can be passed down to later generations”.

Dear students, it is WHUers’ mission and also your future task to aim to meet the nation’s great strategic demands and to keep a close eye on the frontiers of science for academic inheritance and innovation. . In recent years, Wuhan University has been upholding the philosophy of respecting scholars and advocating academics, vigorously introduce high-level talents and guide them to the frontline of teaching. The aim of doing so is to “cultivate the most excellent students by the most excellent scholars”. I hope that you will fully transform the profound academic background and rich academic resources of Wuhan University into the advantages for your growth and success. And I also hope that you will inherit the academic spirit of overcoming difficulties, pursuing excellence and making consistent efforts in your areas, so as to be a truth-seeking and studious WHUer!

The beauty of Wuhan University Spirit also lies in her great love for the world

A university is not only a palace of academic inheritance, but also a beacon of social progress and a highland of human mental civilization. Since the year 1893, a passionate emotion has been stirring WHUers’ minds, that is, the great love to care for the world and the common people. Professor Gui Xi’en (WHU), who has been working for the cause of AIDS prevention, has cured countless patients. The award citation of CCTV Touching China figures for him goes like this, “Five years of a professor’s efforts will benefit the whole nation for 500 years.” Yang Changlin, a retired teacher affectionately called “father” by his students, has been caring for Tibetan students for more than 40 years. He has built a warm “Home in Wuhan” for Tibetan students from universities in Wuhan. The “Spring Project”, “The Magical Classroom in the Mountains”, and other public welfare projects started by WHUers have gathered love and spread warmth for the vulnerable groups in society. In the most critical moment of the COVID-19 pandemic, hundreds of thousands of alumni of Wuhan University around the world spontaneously transferred all the anti-pandemic supplies they could gather to the front line by chartered planes and special cars. Our alumni have donated more than 1.2 billion yuan, accounting for a quarter of the total amount of donations received in Wuhan City. This fully embodies the WHUers’ great love for the country and the people.

Dear students, there is a saying in the classic Chinese work, Zuo Zhuan (the annals of Lu’s history from 722BC—468BC by Qiu Ming, the left historiographer), “The highest extent man may reach is the establishment of morality and virtue. The next is the establishment of merit and another is the establishment of doctrine.” It means that the establishment of morality and virtue is the highest state of one’s life. One cannot live only for oneself but should also take the corresponding social responsibility and make contributions to society. I hope that you will inherit the great spirit of WHUers, namely tolerating others with your highest virtues and helping people who are in need when you succeed. I also hope that you will take the initiative to care for others and society and strive to be the models of national integrity and social progress.

Dear students, sincerity, truthfulness, goodness and beauty are the important values of the spirit of Wuhan University. Of course, these are not the only values of Wuhan University. In the days to come, you may still find a self-improving WHU, an innovative WHU, an open and inclusive WHU... I hope that you will not only study earnestly and live positively, but also try to understand, inherit and carry forward the spirit of Wuhan University by heart, and strive to be the pillars for the rejuvenation of our nation in the future!

At the beginning of the construction of the school buildings on Luo Jia Mountain in the 1930s, President Wang Shijie and Mr. Ye Yage led the whole school to plant trees, hoping that “if trees are planted here today, students will be cultivated here in the next spring”. Educating students with virtue is the fundamental mission of a university, and caring for students is the duty of the president. In the future, we are very willing to listen to your voices, answer your questions, and help you solve the difficulties in your study and life. On the later journey of your growth, I and all the other staff of Wuhan University will be with you. I sincerely wish you to grow strong and make achievements in Luo Jia Mountain!

Thank you!

Rewritten by:Lin Wanping;Li Tiantian

Edited by:Wu Buer, Sylvia and Hu Sijia


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