Legacy of Excellence: Chen Yuguang and Wu Yifang – Pioneering Chinese University Presidents of the 20th Century


November 11, 2023
8:00 - 9:30 PM EST

Chen Yuguang 陈裕光校长 (left) and Wu Yifang 吴贻芳校长 (right)

Join us for an illuminating lecture that not only delves into the remarkable lives and legacies of two distinguished Chinese university presidents from the 20th century, Chen Yuguang and Wu Yifang, but also explores the rich history and architectural characteristics of the universities they led. These two visionary leaders left an indelible mark on the educational landscape of China, and their contributions continue to inspire generations.

Chen Yuguang (1883-1989), the longest-serving president of Nanking University and Wu Yifang (1883-1985), the longest-serving president of Ginling College, both located in the then capital city of Nanjing. shared a unique journey of leadership and dedication. Despite the tumultuous times they lived through, both were steadfast in their commitment to advancing education in China.

Chen Yuguang, who earned his Ph.D. from Columbia University, not only brought back invaluable knowledge but was also recognized with a medal of honor from Columbia for excellence. His tireless efforts in developing Nanking University and his influence in shaping Chinese higher education make him an iconic figure in the field.

Wu Yifang, a trailblazing scholar who earned her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, earned the fitting accolade from President Franklin D. Roosevelt as the “Goddess of Wisdom” in recognition of her unwavering commitment to women’s education and her remarkable contributions to the development of Ginling College. In a historic moment, Wu Yifang was one of only four women who signed the UN Charter in 1945, underscoring her remarkable global influence and enduring dedication to women’s rights and education. It is also worth highlighting that Wu Yifang made a significant visit to China Institute in New York City during the 1940s. Her advocacy for gender equality in education was notably ahead of its time and continues to be celebrated and emulated to this day.

Nanjing University

In addition to their extraordinary accomplishments, our speaker, Prof. Zhao Feifei, will provide a fascinating insight into the history of these two prestigious institutions. Nanking University, founded in 1902, boasts a storied past that reflects the dynamic evolution of Chinese higher education. Learn about its origins, transformation, and its pivotal role in shaping the intellectual landscape of China. Furthermore, discover the architectural characteristics of this historic institution that have been preserved and cherished for generations.

Nanjing Normal University, formerly Ginling College

Ginling College, with its roots dating back to 1915, has a remarkable history of its own. It played a pioneering role in women’s education and empowerment in China. Our speaker will delve into the college’s historical journey, the challenges it overcame, and its lasting impact on women’s education. Explore the architectural beauty and unique features that adorn Ginling College’s campus, offering a visual journey through time and space.

Moreover, this year marks the 130th anniversary of the birth of both Chen and Wu, making this lecture a fitting tribute to their enduring legacies and the institutions they guided.






Zhao Feifei 赵飞飞

With a Ph.D. in history from Nanjing University, Zhao Feifei is currently an Associate Professor at Ludong University. Her primary research areas include modern and contemporary Chinese history, the history of higher education, and intellectual and cultural history. She has published extensively in various academic journals. Her publications include her study of Chen Yuguang and Wu Yifang and the universities they led.

赵飞飞, 南京大学历史学博士,现为鲁东大学副教授,硕士生导师。主要研究领域为中国近现代史、高等教育史、思想文化史。在《史学月刊》、《民国档案》、《民国研究》、《历史教学》、《近代史学刊》等核心刊物发表论文十余篇,主持完成(在研)教育部科研课题两项,参与国家级科研项目两项,出版专著一部。

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