Dean's Remarks at 2021 Commencement

The following remarks delivered by Dean Hai Wen at PHBS 2021 commencement: 

Honorable guests, professors, and students:
Good afternoon!

Time flies and water flows on. The battle against COVID19 is not over yet, but now it is the 2021 graduation ceremony. I thought last year's graduation with masks was a singular event, only to realize that this year we would still require masks for the ceremony.

A total of 520 students are graduating this year, including 319 full-time Master's students, 110 MBA students, 90 EMBA students, and 1 Ph.D. student; among them, 25 are international students. Here, on behalf of the faculty and staff of PHBS, I would like to congratulate you on your successful graduation. At the same time, I would also like to congratulate the 36 Part-time Graduate Program students for completing the course requirements and passing the thesis defense to obtain their Master's degrees. On behalf of the university and the school, I would like to extend my sincere respect to all of your parents and relatives who have worked hard to nurture your growth. I would also like to express my heartfelt thanks to the dedicated and hardworking faculty and staff.

To be honest, it’s not easy to complete studies at PHBS, the most international and rigorous business school in China. First of all, the enrollment process is difficult, including fierce competition in various assessments and interviews. The "hard life" begins after acceptance, though. With each course, you realize that the real challenge is yet to come. I believe that writing and defending your graduation thesis in the past few weeks is an unforgettable experience, but it is also a process that greatly improves your research ability. PHBS is the West Point of the business world: without the soldier-like fighting spirit and the “iron-will of laborers,” it’s very hard to persist at PHBS and successfully graduate. Therefore, I would like to give a thumbs up to all the graduates today. "Laborers," you have worked hard!

Recently, I have heard the term “involution” everywhere, especially among students. I didn’t understand, so I went to Baidu. It turns out that “involution” is jargon from sociology referring to a social phenomenon in which the whole society has an escalating competition for stock resources in the absence of incremental resources. I also looked up how to avoid involution. Answers include emigrating, becoming a monk, going to Tibet, becoming a "king of Involution" and simply “lying down.”

Of course, these are not acceptable alternatives for the vast majority of PHBS graduates. I believe that our students will prefer to consider how to innovate and start a business,  how to exploit resources, how to lead development, and how to eliminate involution. After all, PKUers are always at the vanguard of new and improved movements to set China on a good upward path. Indeed, it is the PKUers who promoted the New Culture Movement, aroused the public's awareness, launched the May 4th Movement and founded the Communist Party of China more than 100 years ago.

As we all know, this year marks the centenary of the founding of the Communist Party of China. Recently, the TV series "The Age of Awakening" has shown how the teachers and students of Peking University 100 years ago, full of ambition, dedicated themselves to the revolution, sought for truth among the confusion, explored the future in the darkness, and devoted themselves to the nation and their fellow countrymen, intrepidly sacrificing their lives for the independence and liberation of the Chinese people.

Now, one hundred years later, looking back at the vicissitudes of the century and at the world today, as a graduate from Peking University, what should you choose for your future life? How should you prepare? As a teacher and a senior graduate of Peking University, I hope that you will never be anxious or discouraged, give up or lose heart, no matter what situations you are facing, be it "involution" or not. Just like the students of Peking University more than a hundred years ago, we should always be full of enthusiasm and "with our youth, build a young family, a young country, a young nation, a young people, a young earth, and a young universe" (by LI Dazhao).

Facing the future, we must look far ahead and aim high. By “high,” I mean the high of the realm and the high of the ideal. The destiny of an individual must be closely linked to the interests of his people, and the ideal of the individual must be closely linked to the development of his country and the destiny of mankind. This attitude can help us climb high and see far, view the entire world, inform the future by experience, and exert every effort with determination. Otherwise, one may easily become myopic, fail to see beyond his nose, seek instant gratification, and take cover in a comfort zone. Only by standing at such a height can we have a broad and long-term vision, calmly face difficulties, look at history and the future optimistically, and deal with life’s various challenges with composure.

Facing the future, we must also be steady and reach far. This “stability” means that we must be stable in both actions and development. If you want to go far, you must first walk steadily. The higher the realm, the farther the horizon, the greater the need to maintain a steady pace. Life is like a Gobi Challenge. The destination is out of sight and the terrain is practically inaccessible. The final victory is not to realize rapid initial progress, but to persevere to the end and finish the race smoothly. Therefore, as you step from campus to enter society, as you have just completed your studies and are starting a new journey, don’t be too eager to pursue success, and don't become preoccupied with income, reputation, and status. When you have no real strength, such external accessories may become obstacles to moving forward. These obstacles may come from oneself or the outside world. "A man's wealth is his own ruin by causing others' greed." Wealth, reputation, and status are not evil on their own. However, blindly coveting or flaunting them may lead to disaster.

Just as a ship cleaves waves in the ocean, knowledge is the keel for navigating a steady life.  Today, you have completed one stage of learning. This commencement signals the end of your graduate studies, but knowledge should be a lifelong pursuit. Mr. Lin Shu, a modern litterateur and translator who once lectured at Peking University, said that “reading is like stocking a fortress. The more you read, the more tools and weapons there will be for you to solve the unexpected puzzles in the future.” Only by continued learning can you have the confidence and ability to live a steady life, acquire peace of mind and walk unwaveringly, go far, and finally make a difference.

Dear students, three or two years ago in the autumn, you came to southern Yanyuan from all over the world with dreams, to study hard and grow your grit at Peking University HSBC Business School. Hundreds of days and nights of challenge and study have coalesced into intense and precious memories. Today, you will bid farewell to the PHBS campus and embark on a new journey. I hope that in your future life, you will always aim high and see far, enrich yourself with humility, walk steadily, and progress with promise!

Finally, I wish you all a happy graduation!
Thank you all!