Yang Shixian:Inheritance of Essence

Yang ShixianInheritance of Essence

Adhering to President Zhang Boling’s principle of ‘science to strengthen the country’ and ‘education power to help China achieve modernization’, on the one hand, the Department of Chemistry focuses on developing teaching; on the other hand, it has courage to discover and research, to achieve the prosperity of the country and development of society.

The College of Chemistry is a nine-story construction, being made up of the main building and two buildings attached to its North and South part. An elevated corridor links the main building with the attached buildings. Entering into the College of Chemistry, you will be directly faced with photos of important chemists. Seeing them reminds you of its history of more than 80 years. From the history of the college, which has supported Tianjin’s chemical industry to adopt Ho’s process for soda production, you will feel the diligence and sure spirit of the whole campus.

The College of Chemistry has always been Nankai University’s best college. It inherits the academic tradition of time-honored Nankai University

The Department of Chemistry was established in 1921. It was one of the earliest chemistry departments in China. In that year, the department only enrolled four students. It even did not have a laboratory. In 1923, it cultivated the first graduate of chemistry. In 1923, Professor Yang Shixian came to teach at Nankai University, being the successor of the pioneer Qiu Zongyue.

Professor Yang Shixian

In the summer of 1918, Yang Shixian went to Cornell University, New York. In 1921, after he has obtained a bachelor's degree in applied chemistry, he went to work in a research institute. In 1923, he had to give up his study because he lacked money. So he returned to China just after he obtained his master’s degree. During the journey, he encountered his former schoolmate in Tsinghua University, Li Ji, who would become an expert of humanities and Yinxu Archeology. At that time, Li has been hired to teach at Nankai University. He said to Yang Shixian warmheartedly,President Zhang Boling of Nankai University is good at managing the school, but he is short of professors to teach chemistry.”

The Nankai University of that day had poor funding with the first graduating class of only twelve students. In spite of its poor condition, Yang Shixian chose the privately-run Nankai University. He considered that although the university could not give him a high salary, it was out of the control of government. He chose Nankai as the stepping stone to realize his dream of ‘develop education to save country’. At Nankai University, Yang Shixian and Professor Qiu Zongyue worked together and set their focus on the development of organic chemistry. Their efforts lay the foundation for the advantages and features of Nankai University’s Chemistry.

The teaching building for the College of Chemistry

On August 3rd, 1932, the Institute of Applied Chemistry was founded. President Zhang gave its name, stressing ‘Applied’. After its foundation, progress was made. It helped to solve difficulties in production for chemical enterprises. Significant contributions also were made to Tianjin’s chemical industry. Thanks to the college, the tradition has been formed, which is that chemistry education in Nankai University is to serve the country.

During the Sino-Japanese war, Professor Yang was nominated director of the Department of Chemistry of the Southwest Associated University. In 1943, he was nominated academic dean of the university. During the eight years of the war, dozens of students graduated from the Department of Chemistry. After the Republic of China was founded, its new spirit has stimulated patriotism of overseas young students. A group of overseas students came back to Nankai University to teach, including He Binglin, Chen Rongti, Chen Tianchi, Wang Jitao, just to name a few. They made lasting contributions to the development of Nankai’s Chemistry.

Institute of organic chemistry beside the Main Building

In 1956, as one of the first academicians, Professor Yang participated in the meeting to make the first ‘Twelve years of scientific development vision’. He was the leader of the chemistry group. At the meeting, he accepted the appointment of studying pesticides from the government. After he went back to university, he started to organize research on organic pesticides. His effort also created favorable conditions for founding Nankai University’s Institute of Organic Chemistry. In 1962, under the care of Zhou Enlai and Nie Rongzhen, the first Chemistry Research Institute in Chinese universities was found – Nankai University’s Institute of Organic Chemistry. Research like phosphorus organic chemistry and new pesticides which were carried out here were leading achievements throughout the country.

After the reform and opening-up, Nankai University welcomed its new stage for the Department of Chemistry. A few Nankai University graduates inherited the outstanding traditions, paying back their teachers’ teaching as well as dedicating their wisdom and power to Nankai University.

Nankai University

No.38 Tongyan Road, Jinnan District, Tianjin , P.R. China 300350

No.94 Weijin Road,  Nankai District, Tianjin, P.R.China  300071