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Higher Learning Dilemma> Archive
UPDATED: August 3, 2009 NO. 31 AUGUST 6, 2009
Happy Birthday, Nankai
Nankai University, one of China's premiere institutions of higher learning, celebrates its 90th anniversary

RETURNING TO HIS ROOTS: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visits Nankai University on February 16, 2009 (LI XUEREN)

Many people immediately recall great alumni whenever the name Nankai University is uttered—former Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai, the great playwright Cao Yu, the eminent mathematician Chen Xingshen and many others.

And while October 17, 2009, may be the official 90th anniversary of this famous university, located in Tianjin Municipality, officials are already well into the party. In fact, they kicked off the celebration early this year and will keep going until 2010.

"It is better to celebrate the anniversary for the whole year rather than just one day," said Nankai University President Rao Zihe, who launched two forums during the year to celebrate Nankai's contributions—the Nankai Elites Forum and the Nankai International University Presidents' Forum. "Many big figures have been and will be invited to give lectures on campus, and it will be a great feast for the students."

The alma mater of two premiers

Premier Wen Jiabao also graduated from the university's associated Nankai Middle School, and former Foreign Minister, Qian Qichen, graduated from Nankai Primary School, which is also affiliated with the institution.

COMMITTED: Zhang Boling (1876-1951), the first President of Nankai University, dedicated his life to improving education in China (XINHUA)

The university's motto is "dedication to the public interest, acquisition of all-around capability, and aspiring for progress each day." The first president of Nankai University, Zhang Boling, penned the motto. An officer in the waning years of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) who witnessed Chinese defeat at the hands of Japanese invaders in 1894, Zhang felt that only by cultivating better talent could China become strong. He became a teacher in the school of great educator Yan Xiu.

In September 1919, Zhang and Yan set up the privately owned Nankai University. They later founded Nankai Middle School and Nankai Primary School.

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