Time: May 24th, 2019
Source: News Center
Author: Li Weimiao & Wang Jiaqi
Zheng Hongnian, president of Jinan University from 1927 to 1934, was one of the six sages of JNU. Thanks to his management and reorganization, JNU was upgraded to a comprehensive university. His all-embracing attitude and recruitment of famous teachers helped it grow into an active academic atmosphere. .
The Nan Yang Ministry of Culture and Education was established thanks to his concern with overseas Chinese and enhancement of overseas Chinese education.
In February 1907, the first returned overseas Chinese from Java island came to Nanjing. Zheng then proposed to Duan Fang, viceroy of Jiangnan and Jiangxi Provinces in the Qing Dynasty, to set up a school to gather overseas Chinese students to study together. Duan readily took his advice, and thus Jinan School was founded. Duan appointed Zheng the first principal of Jinan School, and Zheng actively participated in the preparations.
(The first 21 overseas Chinese students from Java arrived in Nanjing.)
In 1927, after being transferred to a job as a government official, Zheng was back in charge of Jinan school. He dramatically reformed Jinan School from a high school into a comprehensive university: National Jinan University. As JNU's first president, Zheng divided the school into three parts: university, middle school and Nan Yang Ministry of Culture and Education. The university comprised colleges of business, the liberal arts, science, law and education.
Zheng made JNU a famous university with well-equipped facilities through the construction of teaching and research places such as the science hall, farms, Nanyang Hall, Shangjie Pavilion and, Zhiyuan Hall; sports venues such as the gymnasium; and its affiliated primary and middle schools.
By the time Zheng left his post in 1934, Jinan had developed into a comprehensive university with arts, science, law, business, agriculture, art and other disciplines. It had become an institution of higher education with relatively comprehensive disciplines for the time.
(JNU students taking a plant anatomy lesson.)
Zheng emphasized that Jinan University should be built into the Paramount School of Overseas Chinese Students and diffuse the world's profound knowledge and the outstanding Chinese culture” to students at home and abroad. For this reason, he appointed many renowned professors and scholars, including Liang Shiqiu, Xia Mianzun, Ye Gongchao and Shen Congwen, laying an academic foundation for the university.
Zheng embraced different ideas and opinions put forward by parties and groups. He often invited celebrities such as Lu Xun, Cai Yuanpei, Ma Xulun, Li Da and Hushe to deliver speeches at Jinan University. He also supported students in forming academic groups for studies and research.
(Jinan University enjoys a dynamic campus culture，and its literary journal Wild Fall became the favorite of Lu Xun, who never missed an issue)
As Jinan University was in the prime of its development period, it attracted numerous overseas Chinese students, with a record number of 1,700. The university's fame spread all over the world.
(The traditional Chinese paintings lab of National Jinan University)
(Zheng Hongnian, front center, and comrades from the Ministry of Culture, Education and Career in Southeast Asia)
(Comrades from the Ministry of Culture, Education and Career in Southeast Asia)
Under the command of the Nanjing National Government's Department of Education, Zheng carried out an inspection of education in Southeast Asia. He resigned from Jinan University in 1934 and then settled in Hong Kong.
Zheng, whose style name – a courtesy name given in adulthood in addition to one's given name -- is Shao Jue, was born on Jan. 4, 1876. He grew up in Panyu, Guangzhou, and became a candidate in the imperial examinations at the provincial level in the Qing Dynasty. In his youth, he was cultivated by Kang Youwei, then studied in Guangya School and graduated from the Laws and Policy School in Jiangnan and Jiangxi Provinces. He followed Sun Yat-sen to join in national reform and took up an important position. He was recognized as one of the pioneers for education of overseas Chinese, and as one of the founders of Jinan University.
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