Beginning with the founding of St. John’s University in 1865, the Protestant Church established, in all, 13 Christian universities in regions of mainland China, making a great contribution to the nation’s higher education. However, after 1949 these institutions were forced to close, thereby frustrating Christian education. The following year, a group of enthusiastic Chinese educators proposed to the United Board for Christian Colleges in China to foster the spirit of Chinese youth by establishing an ideal university in Taiwan, that would both continue the
work of Christian education in China and inherit the grand tradition of the 13 mainland universities. In 1952, the Board’s secretary, Dr. William P. Fenn, made a trip to Taiwan to investigate the possibility. He decided to establish a university that would meet Taiwan’s needs and also maintain the highest academic standards. In June of 1953, the Board sent Dr. Thomas W. Graham of Oberlin College, Ohio representing the organization, together with Dr. Fenn to set up a preparatory office and board to oversee the establishment of the school. They appointed Dr. Li-wu Hang to chair both the office and board. After careful assessment, Ta-tu Hill, west to Taichung City, was chosen as the site of the campus. The school was named Tunghai University meaning Eastern Sea to China.
On November 10, 1953, the Board published “The Aims and Purposes of Tunghai University.” This included discussions of: the creation of an institution devoted to the free search for truth; the philosophy that admission requirements should recognize character and purpose as well as great academic promise placing emphasis on quality over quantity, as well as collective living and academic goals; the promotion of a student work program, in addition to the academic curriculum, in order to train the whole person; the free exercise of faith in order to foster the spirit of democracy and freedom; respect for China’s history and cultural traditions, as well as the duty to engage in East-West cultural dialogue; and most importantly, that all these educational ideals be expressed and cultivated throughout Taiwanese society and then spread to every corner of the globe.
Mr. Beauson Tseng
On November 11 of the same year, American Vice-president Richard Nixon arrived in Taichung to preside over Tunghai University’s ground breaking ceremony. After this, the Board, having officially taken over the campus, commissioned I. M. Pei, C. K. Chen, and Chao-kang Chang to design the campus and commence the construction of the school. At the same time, it was decided that the colleges of Arts and Science must first be established. Included within the College of Arts were the departments of Chinese Literature, Foreign Languages, and History, while the College of Science was made up of the departments of Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Chemical Engineering. The Board also appointed Mr. Beauson Tseng to be the first President of the University.
In July of 1955, an independent exam was offered for admittance to the first term, and 200 students were accepted. On November 2, opening ceremonies for the University were held, and this day was made Founder’s Day.
Since the time of its founding, Tunghai has had a highly creative and experimental spirit, offering innovations such as its Student Labor Program, general education, open library stacks, and a student honor code, all of which were never before seen in the history of Chinese education.
- In 1958, Dr. Teh-yao Wu took over as the second President of the University. During his tenure, in order to meet the needs of Taiwan’s rapid industrialization, he added a third college to the University; the College of Engineering. Its Department of Industrial Engineering was the first in Taiwan to train people in the disciplines of industrial administration and production specialization.
- In 1972, when Dr. Ming-shan Hsieh took over as third President of the University, he continued with the original aims of the founders and began to expand admissions by establishing the Night School. The following year, he created the Experimental Farm, a step which began to increase the self-sufficiency of the university. In 1976, the College of Business was established. At this point the university had four colleges, three graduate programs, and 18 undergraduate departments.
- Dr. Ko-wang Mei became the fourth President of the school in 1978. He worked with great energy for closer ties between the University and society, as well as to establish the Extension Education Program, strengthen teacher qualifications, and expand the school’s international relations. In 1980, when the colleges of Agriculture and Law were added, the number of graduate programs, undergraduate departments, and students had all gradually increased.
- Dr. Ta-nien Ruan was named the fifth President of the University in 1992, and maintained the course of administrative development.
- In 1995, Dr. Kang-Pei Wang became the sixth President. Under his leadership, Tunghai Affiliated High School was added and major infrastructure improvements were made to the campus including the New Student Dormitory Complex, the Science Technology Building, the Humanities Building, and the General Sciences Building.
- Dr. Haydn H.D. Chen took over as the seventh president in 2004 and continued to develop the Second Teaching Area. The missions for his administration are: (1) to develop Tunghai University into an excellent education institution, (2) to take a balanced approach by walking on two legs: teaching and research, (3) to contribute to the larger community and society through our professional resources and consulting services, and (4) to assist in the development of Taiwan’s culture, economy and society.
In addition to his stated missions, Dr. Chen continues to propagate the spirit of Christianity in the Tunghai establishment and to elevate the following three facets: education, research and service. Dr. Chen values the promotion of holistic education in order to create “ideal graduates”. These “ideal graduates” are qualified, competent professionals with high moral and ethical standards. They possess language proficiency, computer literacy and interpersonal communications skills. They are equally versed with technical skills as well as an appreciation in arts and humanity. They are confident individuals with critical evaluation skills and independent thinking capabilities, ready to enter into an international and culturally diverse workplace while taking up broad responsibilities in their community.
- August 2012, Dr. Fang-Bo Yeh was installed as interim president of the University.
- In 2013, Dr. Ming-Jer Tang assumed the position of the eighth President of the university. He values that professionalism and liberal arts education should be equally developed so as to cultivate students’ creativity, sense of globalization, and interdisciplinary learning ability. The education at Tunghai is student-centered, and all learning opportunities are open to the faculty and staff. President Tang holds a belief that it is essential for the University to foster students to be able to explore themselves, to have critical thinking ability and to be able to innovate. The goal is to establish a unique and outstanding Liberal Arts environment and bring a renaissance to Tunghai.
- In June 2015, Dr. Cheng-Tung Lin was installed as interim president of the University.
- In 2016, Dr. Mao-Jiun J. Wang assumed the position of the ninth President of the university. He is an alumnus of THU Department of Chemistry. President Wang wants to build on the Tunghai spirit and the school’s founding mission by helping the school become a leading and highly creative institution. Tunghai has departments covering so many fields that Dr. Wang hopes to encourage interdisciplinary studies and bring together the aesthetic sensibilities of liberal arts courses with cutting-edge knowledge fr om the fields science and technology.
The University has 9 colleges, 34 departments (with 48 masters, 14 doctoral), and 17,060 students.