蔡元培 (1868 - 1940)
Cai Yuanpei (1868 - 1940)
Also known as Cai Heqing and Cai Jiemin; born in Shaoxing, Zhejiang province. Cai Yuanpei passed the civil-service examinations in 1889, and earned the title of Jinshi (doctorate) in the following year. After the Reform Movement of 1898 failed, he abandoned his government post and returned to his hometown, where he became president of the Shaoxing Zhongxi Academy. He pushed forward education reforms and advocated new forms of learning. After 1901, he successively became president of Chinese Education Association and principal of the Shanghai Patriotic School for Women. In 1907, he went to Germany to pursue his studies. Upon his return to China, he was appointed Minister of Education by the Provisional Government at Nanjing. In 1917, he became president of Peking University. He advocated the educational principle of “freedom of thought and acceptance of diversity” and supported the New Culture Movement.
During his term of service in the Ministry of Education and Peking University, he promoted citizenship and moral education, and advocated that “the task of running the education system should be turned over completely to the hands of educators, and should remain untouched by external influences.” He believed that the university was more than a place for the provision of academic qualifications, but that it was also a site for academic research. He was opposed to the division of secondary studies into science and arts streams, emphasizing the importance of secondary students acquiring basic knowledge in both fields. In 1927, he was named president of the Daxueyuan (the University Council) of the National Government in Nanjing. In 1929, he became the first president of the Academia Sinica. After the outbreak of the War of Resistance against Japan in 1937, he moved to Hong Kong. He died of illness in Hong Kong in March 1940 at the age of 72.