St. John's University, Shanghai

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St John's University
St. John's University Shanghai logo.png
Motto 學而不思则罔
Motto in English
Light and Truth
Active 1879–1952
Type Private university
Affiliation Anglican
President Francis Lister Hawks Pott
Location Shanghai, China
St. John's University, Shanghai
Traditional Chinese 聖約翰大學
Simplified Chinese 圣约翰大学
St. John's College on Jessfield Road

St. John's University (SJU) was an Anglican university in Shanghai. Founded in 1879 by American missionaries, it was one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in China, often regarded as the Harvard of China.[1]

After the founding of the People's Republic of China, the Communist government closed the university in 1952 and its departments were merged into various other universities in Shanghai. Its campus was taken over by the newly established East China Institute of Politics and Law.


The university was founded in 1879 as "St. John's College" by William Jones Boone and Joseph Schereschewsky, Bishop of Shanghai, by combining two pre-existing Anglican colleges in Shanghai. The architect for the college's original quadrangle of buildings was Newark, New Jersey architect William Halsey Wood.

St. John's began with 39 students and taught mainly in Chinese. In 1891 it changed to teaching with English as the main language. The courses began to focus on science and natural philosophy.

In 1905, St. John's College became St. John's University, and became registered in Washington D.C. in the United States. It thus had the status of a domestic university and American graduates of St. John's could proceed directly to graduate schools in the United States. As a result, the university attracted some of the brightest and wealthiest students in Shanghai at the time. It was the first institution to grant bachelor's degrees in China, starting in 1907.

The university was located at 188 Jessfield Road (now Wanhangdu Lu), on a bend of the Suzhou Creek in Shanghai, and was designed to incorporate Chinese and Western architectural elements.

The university survived World War II and the Chinese Civil War. However, in 1952 the Communist government adopted a policy of creating specialist universities in the Soviet style of the time. Under this policy, St Johns was broken up. Most of its faculties were incorporated into the East China Normal University and Fudan University. The medical school was incorporated into Shanghai Second Medical College, which became the School of Medicine, Shanghai Jiaotong University in 2005. The campus became the site of the East China University of Politics and Law. The School of Architecture and the Civil Engineering program were incorporated into Tongji University.

To keep the school's traditions alive, SJU alumni (called Johanneans) funded three academic institutions around the world bearing the name of St. John's.[1] They established St. John's University in Taiwan in 1967 and St. John's College at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, in 1997.[1]

Notable alumni[edit]


  • Francis Lister Hawks Pott, President of St. John's College 1888 to 1896, President of St. John's University from 1896 to 1941
  • William Payne Roberts, instructor and acting president in the absence of Pott
  • David Z.T. Yin, Rector of the University, was a distinguished Chinese scholar who had represented the YMCA in Shanghai at the turn of the century.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c Yang Wu. "Founding of SJC". University of British Columbia. Retrieved 8 May 2014. 
  2. ^ Hevesi, Dennis. "Dr. Thomas Dao, Expert on Treatment of Breast Cancer, Dies at 88", The New York Times, July 25, 2009. Accessed July 26, 2009.
  3. ^ a b "Founder of China's private Minsheng Bank dies". Reuters. 2009-09-14. Retrieved 2009-09-21. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Seeds From The West : St John's Medical School, Shanghai, 1880-1952. Chen, Kaiyi; Imprint Publications, Chicago, 2001. ISBN 1879176386

External links[edit]