SEM Holds Opening Ceremony to Welcome New Undergraduate Students

On the morning of August 16, Tsinghua SEM welcomed its new cohort of undergraduate students at the 2012 undergraduate opening ceremony. The event was presided over by Professor BAI Chong-en, Associate Dean of SEM.
At the the 2012 undergraduate opening ceremony
DEAN QIAN Yingyi addresses the SEM freshmen
Professor BAI Chong-en, Associate Dean of SEM, presides the ceremony
SEM senior PENG Chenchen speaks
SEM freshman LI Ze speaks
Ms. PENG Chenchen, an SEM senior shared her college life experience with the new students by using the SWOT analysis. Mr. LI Ze, a freshman and top performer in the College Entrance Exam from Beijing, represented the new class and looked forward to the four years ahead.
Dean QIAN Yingyi addressed the SEM freshmen by first recalling the progress SEM has made in its undergraduate curriculum reform during the last decade. He attributed the success of the reform to not only having a clear vision of combining general education and individual development, but also to the careful implementation of such a vision. He elaborated on the notion of individual development, which is to provide multiple choices and opportunities for the students so as to suit their individual needs of growth and on general education, which is to cultivate modern civilized citizens independent of academic majors.
Dean QIAN set the theme of his speech as “the usefulness of useless knowledge,” citing the title of the classical 1939 article by Abraham Flexner, the founder of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. Taking three examples, namely the electric magnetic theory by Clark Maxwell , the mechanism design theory by Nobel Laureate in Economics Eric Maskin, and the Apple’s founder Steve Jobs’ experience of taking the calligraphy class after dropping out of college, he illustrated the potential long-term benefits of some seemingly useless knowledge in the short run. He said that the distinctions between useless and useful knowledge may mostly due to the time horizon. The ultimate purpose of the undergraduate education at SEM is to create life-time, not short run benefits for its students. Some seemingly “useless” courses in the SEM undergraduate curriculum are aimed at helping students in understanding of the world and themselves, and will bring about benefits in the future.
Welcoming new undergraduate students
A total of 219 students were admitted into SEM’s 2012 cohort, including 25 for the athlete class, among whom 33 were included in the “Leading Talents Program” and 2 werein the “Top Talents Program” of Tsinghua University.