The greatness of a university lies in her great spirit which is also the root and soul for the university to educate her students. The guidance and support of this spirit are needed for the construction of world-class universities. Each university has its own university spirit, which embodies its educational philosophy and value pursuit. As Lord Haldane, a modern British philosopher said: “The soul of a nation reflects its own truth in its universities.”
During the past 100 years since Nankai University was founded, she has always adhered to her own historical traditions and styles, continuously nurtured and promoted the university spirit with Nankai characteristics, and built it into her education legacy. Nankai University educated a large number of brilliant talents such as Zhou Enlai, Shiing Shen Chern, Cao Yu, Wu Ta-you and achieved extraordinary Nankai phenomenon.
Looking back at the extraordinary development history of Nankai University, it is the broad and long-lasting Nankai spirit that inspires Nankai people to strive forward. A Nankai (middle school) alumni, Wen Jiabao once made a penetrating summary about Nankai spirit which contains not only students’ deep awareness of the nation and society's interests as well as the youthful spirit facing the future but also the patriotic spirit of devoting to both country and society.
Nankai Spirit has rich connotations and implications and can be interpreted from different perspectives. However, the school motto has always been the core concept of Nankai Spirit which can last forever.
Wholehearted Devotion to Public Interests, Commitment and Team Work. Nankai’s spirit is a fruition of Nankai’s strong sense of patriotic awareness and patriotism that is the soul of this spirit. The operators of the school believe that the significance of education lies in the “cultivation of one’s moral character (Runshen)”, especially in the “devotion to the public interests (Shushi)”. The cultivation of one' s moral characters is not only for one's own benefits, but the devotion to the public interests is to serve the development of the society and to serve for a stronger and wealthier country. It clearly represents the patriotic characteristics of the spirit in putting devotion to the public interests in a superior position. Like emphasizing patriotism, the scholars in Nankai repeatedly emphasized the spirit of devotion to the public interests. The school motto indicates the spiritual pursuit of working for the public good. Zhang Boling pointed out several times that the meaning of “gong” is to contribute to the public and get rid of one’s selfishness. He once said that “I dare to assert that anyone who succeeds in the future in fulfilling Nankai’s spirit is the one who fulfills the spirit of devotion to the public interests.” Connected with the thought of Runshen and Shushi is the spirit of Lequn (which means enjoying company and being sociable). The spirit of Lequn emphasizes the individual’s integration into the group and national unity, which is essential in the opinion of the school leaders because if we cannot nurture the spirit of Lequn in students the whole nation will lack cohesion. Guided by the ideas above, Nankai University has always been persistent in creating the moral environment for these spiritual thoughts to rectify people’s ills of selfishness in modern society during the transformation period. The students of Nankai University have lived and studied in this kind of humanistic environment and naturally benefited to develop the spirit of “Learning for the rise of China “(Zhou Enlai). This is one of the important reasons why Nankai University has been able to cultivate a large number of outstanding talents.
Self-improvement and Hardworking Spirit. Nankai University was launched by civil power and grew in recent times even when China underwent political turmoil, frequent wars, and invasion by foreign enemies. A small school turned into a series school named Nankai, which represents her amazing perseverance and resilience. In 1937, the Japanese soldiers who invaded China destroyed the campus of Nankai University. The faculties and students waded to the south and continued to work for the country. After the victory of the Anti-Japanese War, Nankai quickly achieved its re- establishment by virtue of its own strength though faced with financial problems. In 1976, Nankai was hit by a severe earthquake. Faculties and students continued to work or learn under the earthquake shed, and teaching and scientific research work was never interrupted. Nankai also has a pragmatic and hard-working tradition that requires students to show their spirit of “resilience”, “perseverance”, and “hard work” but never be opportunistic. Some famous Nankai alumni recalled: “The performance of Nankai Spirit is down to earth but never be all talk and no deed. Instead of making a superficial, empty publicity, Nankai people tend to do detailed and practical work. In the course of centuries of development, Nankai’s school ethos of practicality and sincerity was formed as a banner of modern education in China and an important spiritual force for her continued development in New China.
Spirit of Openness and Innovation, Advancing with the times. Nankai University always has an open mind that accommodates both Chinese and Western cultures. The “progress with each passing day” in the motto of Nankai University reflects not only in the macro ideas of Nankai school administration and research, but also in the specific requirements of Nankai's way of teaching and educating students. At the beginning of its school administration, Nankai University strongly advocated the absorption of foreign advanced science and culture for the purpose of making the country rich and strong. Since the founding of the People ‘s Republic of China, especially since the reform and opening up, Nankai University has continued traditions and placed the development of the school in coordination with the education trend of the world. At the same time, Nankai University advocates seeking new ideas and progress with the times. Adhering to this concept, in the early days of reform and opening up, Nankai University took the courage of “manship is rare in the fields where manship is rare we have expertise; and I can go first to the destination where no person has reached” and took the lead in the creation of finance, tourism, biochemistry and many other urgently needed fields. While some colleges and universities were skeptical about restoring disciplines in sociology, Nankai University took the lead in setting up a sociological research class and trained the first batch of sociology professionals after the reform and opening up. Nankai University also pays attention to using flexible mechanisms to guide students in the process of early entry into scientific research, so that students have not only a forward-looking vision, but also an active ability for innovation. After the new century, Nankai University has intensified its efforts in opening up and innovation. It not only actively explores and boldly develops new schools, but also built Taida College, Shenzhen Institute of Financial Engineering, and Binhai College, and established innovative research funds and practices of the flexible school system in order to encourage students to participate in technological innovation. Under this context, innovative talents of Nankai University have come out in large numbers, and the development of schools is gratifying.
Nankai Spirit is the long-term accumulation and conciseness of Nankai School administration and the highly valued pursuit of faculties and students. It is a detailed interpretation of Nankai's excellent tradition of “patriotism, dedication, innovation, and social boldness” and it is also the expression of socialist core values.
The spiritual tradition of Nankai University with “patriotism, dedication, innovation, and social boldness” as the core not only inherits the Chinese nation’s time-honored national spirit and traditional virtues, but also embodies Nankai University’s cultural characteristics, trends of the age and values. This spirit of Nankai University is highly consistent to the national spirit of “Chinese spirit” with patriotism and reform and innovation as the core. The spiritual tradition of Nankai is the soul of Nankai people. This spiritual tradition is the intrinsic impetus of building a world-class, high-level university and the inexhaustible source of the advancement of Nankai. It has become the most valuable asset of Nankai University. The spirit tradition will surely continue to carry forward and flourish in the future development of the university.
The school motto carved on the sundial
Promote the Nankai spirit, Adhere to the Patriotic Trend along the Development Path. The development path of an outstanding university is always closely related to the fate of the country and the nation. The nation’s peril will make it hard for the university, and the prosperity of the country will make the university stronger. As a famous Chinese university founded by the famous patriotic educators Yan Xiu and Zhang Bojun, born during the May 4th patriotic movement, both in the war years and during the construction period, Nankai University began to take national rejuvenation and national prosperity as its own mission and put its destiny into the same situation, always standing in the forefront of changes in the times and social progress with united struggle and dedication to serve the country. This is the road to resolutely forge ahead and save the nation in times of danger, to work hard for peace and development, and to strengthen the country through science and education. It is a road to nurture talents and contribute to the rise of China and the nation’s prosperity and strength. This road embodies the mission of Nankai University of “Managing state affairs with humanities, managing the country strong with science , and pursuing a rich country with business studies.” It is on this path that Nankai has achieved brilliant achievements. The educational model of Nankai continues to contribute to the enhancement of higher education in China.
To carry forward the Nankai spirit, we must promote the character of “public interest.” The school motto of Nankai University, which was formulated by Zhang Bojun himself, is a highly condensed approach to value orientation of Nankai University and contains spiritual qualities of dedication and innovation of Nankai University. In the new era of socialist construction, we should fully implement the party’s education policy, fully implement the quality education of“public interests” and adhere to the education-oriented principle, giving priority to moral education, focusing on competence, and developing in an all-round way, nurturing the students with patriotic love of the group and the ability to serve the community, we continue to transport outstanding talents who both have ability and political integrity to dedicate themselves to the service of country. We should adhere to the basic principle of “public interests”, put innovation as the soul of education, focus on the development of connotation, highlight the quality of features, and continuously improve the comprehensive strength and core competitiveness of the university; We should follow the educational concept of “knowing China and serving China” and closely focus on the country’s strategic needs and social development needs, giving full play to its talents, intelligence, and resource advantages, effectively providing full-service, promoting school development and national and regional economic and social development.
To promote the spirit of Nankai, we must carry forward the spirit of youth. As a land of knowledge gathering outstanding young people, Nankai University is full of vitality. As an important cradle for cultivating high-quality and innovative talents, Nankai always bodly faces the future. This vigorous and enterprising and everlasting youthful spirit is a concentrated expression of the continuous self-improvement and struggle of Nankai University and a vivid portrayal of openness and broad-mindedness of Nankai. To maintain this unique quality, the development of Nankai must always be oriented towards modernization, facing the world, facing the future, always keeping pace with the times, reforming and innovating, daring to surpass it, and bravely climbing the peak; it is necessary to insist on positioning itself in the historical coordinates of the development of higher education in the world, and planning in the grand dimension of the long-term development of modern universities, formulating scientific development strategies and measures, and promoting school reform and various undertakings to move forward.
In the past 100 years of changes, the never-changing facts have been that generation after generation of Nankai people have remained coming down in one coterminous line and passed on. With their own persistence and struggle, they constantly interpret, practice and develop the Nankai patriotic road, character of public interests and spirit of youth.
The development history of Nankai proves that if a school has a spirit of high patriotism, national salvation, and a strong national spirit, and strives for it with perseverance, it will be full of endless vitality. There is reason to believe that under the correct leadership of the Communist Party of China, the Nankai people will surely continue to carry forward the Nankai spirit and continue to enrich the spirit of Nankai, and continue to write more glorious chapters for the rejuvenation of our country though science and education for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.