"Strictness" and "Steadiness" in Tsinghua: being a true human being goes first before learning
Aug 06, 2016

In 1992, the Department of Electrical Engineering ushered in its 60th Anniversary Celebration. The 1951 Alumni Mr. Zhu Rongji wrote 5 Chinese characters which means “ For learning and for being a true human being”. He explained the story behind these characters: “ Mr. Zhang Mingtao, the Dean of the Department of Electrical Engineering often said to us ‘when you come to Tsinghua, you are here for learning. However, most importantly, you learn how to be a true human being. Young people must learn first how to be A True Human Being’, then realize the essence behind learning. Regardless of how good you are knowledge-wise, if you are not a good person then you are still a black sheep.” This greatly reflected the education philosophy so closely adhered by Tsinghua university - “equal stress on integrity and ability, morality and talent.” Every generation of Tsinghua people are in the pursuit of honesty, integrity, courage, impartiality along with other noble qualities.

From 1922 to 1927, Mr. Cao Yunxiang served as the president of Tsing Hua School (the predecessor of Tsinghua University). Mr. Cao had stated that “knowledge is easy to seek, virtue is difficult to repair.” He hoped that apart from their studies, students were able to place more emphasis on virtues, ethics and morality. If you are strong in terms of knowledge and abilities yet remains narrow-minded, shortsighted, greedy, and mean-spirited then you cannot be successful. The Tsinghua back then already started with such strict rules and regulations and had clear objectives in terms of cultivating talents.

In 1928, Mr. Luo Jialun became the president of Tsinghua University. Shortly after he took office, he made a bold move and dismissed several professors who did not meet the Tsinghua standard. This was especially true for some “foreign professors” who have not kept up with the standard. Luo believes that “maintaining great teachers is the first and foremost responsibility of the president.” Consequently, he introduced more than 30 fresh talents into Tsinghua.

In 1946, the then president of Tsinghua University Mr. Mei Yiqi’s youngest daughter was not admitted by Tsinghua and had to go elsewhere. In May 1962, Mr. Mei passed away in Taipei and after two weeks, people found a very detailed and clearly written account of the Tsinghua Fund in his bag. He kept it with him throughout his last few days.

Mr. John Ma placed huge emphasis on the physical education and the physical abilities of students. It is not only about winning a sport competition but also about sportsmanship. His famous quote is that “you can lose a competition but you can never lose your sportsmanship.” When faced with students who display bad sportsmanship, they would be replaced on the spot and be told to “get rid of these bad habits or you'll be gone from the team!”. With incidences of brawls and referees being assaulted, Mr. John Ma and the other PE teachers in Beijing established a sports club and promoted good sportsmanship.

In 1928, Professor Ye Qisun invited Dr. Wu Youxun to teach at Physics Department of Tsinghua University and after finding Dr. Wu to be competent in the field, Professor Ye vouched for Dr. Wu to become the Dean of Physics Department in 1934. In 1937, Professor Ye Qisun resigned as the Dean of the Science School and recommended Wu to take on the role. It is Professor Ye’s just and selfless virtues that allowed Dr. Wu to make tremendous contributions to the country’s education sector. Dr. Wu was the president of the Central University and became the first vice-president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences after 1949.

“For learning and for being a true human being” is not something separate but a combination of qualities for Tsinghua. We can find in the history of Tsinghua, countless individuals who, not only with profound knowledge and superb skills, also possessed magnanimity, open-mindedness, strong will and patriotism. Such noble characters are always evident in the history of Tsinghua.

SOURCE / Tsinghua University