St. John's University, Shanghai


St. John's University (SJU) was a Christian university in Shanghai. It was founded in 1879 by American missionaries.

St John's University
Motto in English
Light and Truth
TypePrivate university
PresidentFrancis Lister Hawks Pott
Chinese name
Simplified Chinese圣约翰大学
Traditional Chinese聖約翰大學

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 East China Normal University. Its board of governors moved the university to Hong Kong, founding Chung Chi College, a part of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Its former campus at Shanghai is now the urban campus of the East China University of Political Science and Law.



Foundation as St. John's College

St. John's College on Jessfield Road

The university was founded in 1879 as "St. John's College" by William Jones Boone and Joseph Schereschewsky, Bishop of Shanghai, by combining two preexisting Anglican colleges in Shanghai. The architect for the college's original quadrangle of buildings was Newark, New Jersey architect William Halsey Wood. The first president was Yen Yun-ching (Chinese: 顏永京, 1838–98).[1] During the early period of St. John's College, Lydia Mary Fay (1804–78), a missionary of the Protestant Episcopal China Mission (or the American Church Mission), helped to set up Duane Hall, a secondary school which later became part of St. John's College.[2]

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

St. John's University in 1905
A bookplate of the university library

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 left St. John's and formed the Kwang Hua University. In 1951, Kwang Hua was incorporated into East China Normal University.

Chinese Civil War and disestablishment


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.

After the Cultural Revolution in mainland China, the surviving personnel of the original St. John's University Medical School administration decided to recognize the students who were mandated to transfer and subsequently graduated from Shanghai Second Medical College with a St. John's University Medical School degree; the diploma was signed by their original president of St. John's.

Notable alumni

See also Category:St. John's University, Shanghai alumni


  • 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 US and became a priest in the Episcopal church, working as a chaplin with the Diocese of California. He was an undergraduate alumnus of St. John's.
  • 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.

Institutions with names that commemorate SJU


To keep the school's traditions alive, SJU alumni (called Johanneans) have founded three academic institutions bearing the same name:

  • in Tamsui District, Taiwan, St. John's University was established in 1967;
  • In Vancouver, St. John's College at the University of British Columbia was established in 1997,[5] and
  • In Shanghai, St. John's College at the East China Normal University will open its door in 2016.[6]

See also





  1. ^ Wickeri, Philip L. (2015). Christian Encounters with Chinese Culture : Essays on Anglican and Episcopal History in China. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, HKU. ISBN 9789888313259. OCLC 911961991.
  2. ^ Wickeri, Philip (2017-02-02). Strong, Rowan (ed.). "Anglicanism in China and East Asia, 1819–1912". The Oxford History of Anglicanism, Volume III. doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199699704.001.0001. ISBN 9780199699704.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ "Founder of China's private Minsheng Bank dies". Reuters. 2009-09-14. Retrieved 2009-09-21.
  5. ^ Yang Wu. "Founding of SJC". University of British Columbia. Archived from the original on 4 September 2013. Retrieved 8 May 2014.
  6. ^ "Newsletter, SJUAA". Archived from the original on 2015-12-08. Retrieved 2015-10-23.

Further reading

  • Seeds From The West : St John's Medical School, Shanghai, 1880–1952. Chen, Kaiyi; Imprint Publications, Chicago, 2001. ISBN 1879176386
  • St John's University Alumni Association Archived 2007-09-29 at the Wayback Machine