St. John's University, Shanghai

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St John's University
St. John's University Shanghai logo.png
Motto 學而不思則罔
Motto in English
Light and Truth
Type Private university
Active 1879–1952
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, most of its faculty members, students and library collections were transferred to the East China Normal University. Its Board of Governors moved the university to Hong Kong, founding Chung Chi College, a part of Chinese University of Hong Kong.


Foundation as St. John's College[edit]

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.

St. John's University[edit]

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.

In 1925, some academics and students fled from the St. John's University, later forming the Kwang Hua University. In 1951, Kwang Hua University was incorporated into East China Normal University.

Chinese Civil War and disestablishment[edit]

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 John's was broken up. Most of its faculties were incorporated into the East China Normal University. The medical school was incorporated into Shanghai Second Medical College, which became the School of Medicine, Shanghai Jiao Tong University in 2005. The campus became the site of the East China University of Politics and Law.

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 Z.L. (SiLiang) Sung was the Vice President of St. John's University under Francis Lister Hawks Pott and later the first Chinese born Acting president during WWII. He was accused of collaboration with the Japanese after the war, imprisoned, and later acquitted. He was helped lead the first two delegations from China to the 1932 and 1936 Olympics. He emigrated to the USA and became a priest in the Episcopal church working as a Chaplin with the Diocese of California. Also an undergraduate Alumni.
  • William Payne Roberts, instructor and acting president in the absence of Pott (needs verification)
  • 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.

Other colleges established by alumni for commemorating SJU[edit]

To keep the school's traditions alive, SJU alumni (called Johanneans) founded three academic institutions around the world bearing the name of St. John's:

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b 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. ^ "Founder of China's private Minsheng Bank dies". Reuters. 2009-09-14. Retrieved 2009-09-21. 
  4. ^ Newsletter, SJUAA

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]