HomeBiographiesWest China UnionCorrespondenceMagazine ArticlesNews & JournalsOther ArticlesFull Bibliography

The West China Union University (WCUU), located in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China, was the product of the collective efforts of four Protestant, denominational, missionary boards and eventually became a division of the West China Educational Union (WCEU), which was created in 1906. Once established, the University approached the difficult tasks of educating and converting the people of Sichuan province--an area in size equal to the United Kingdom, France, and Germany combined--as it was the only institution with a Christian purpose in the region. This meant that the faculty and administration were attempting to educate and influence the beliefs of a population in excess of 150 million people.

As of 1914 the WCEU consisted of 106 schools in Sichuan province, serving 2597 boys in their studies, as well as the main university. In addition to the higher education provided by the Educational Union, on the lower levels of education it was in charge of curricula, exams, conferring of certificates, and supervising of first and secondary educational work in all missions. In 1903 Dr. John W. Yost, Dickinson Class of 1903, became the first alumnus to find employment at WCUU; he was a Professor of Education. Professor Yost often corresponded with the administration at Dickinson to request further support for WCUU and for an assistant to aid him in his duties. In response to Yost's request, the President of the College, Dr. James. H. Morgan, published an article in the Dickinsonian Supplement calling for student financial support and also paraphrasing the aims of the College in foreign fields: as he wrote, "the function of a College is to teach men to think in world terms instead of local terms." Furthering this message is the "Dickinson Creed," found in the same issue of the Supplement:

1.) We believe that all men are brothers, and the weakest has the first claim upon our sympathies.
2.) We believe that the college is a place where students become familiar with a world of things. Provincialism is inexcusable among college men.
3.) We believe that no student or alumnus of Dickinson is willing to see his college outdone by other colleges.

Much can be learned from studying how WCUU received its funding. Aside from the support given by the various Dickinson alumni who worked at the WCUU, there was also widespread support from the students during the annual China Fund Drive. Furthermore, there were a few Dickinson trustees who gave greatly to the Dickinson-in-China program. A letter to the Dickinsonian from Dr. John F. Goucher, Class of 1868 and a founding member of WCUU, addressed the question of "where [our] money goes when we send funds to the University." His letter concluded that the money goes to help those Chinese who want to learn. Those whom the school did not have room to teach were turned away, and were thus denied the chance to become Christians. This alone, according to Dr. Goucher, should be enough reason to support WCUU. When Dickinson formed the Dickinson College Extension Board, Dickinson and WCUU drew a step closer as Dickinson devoted permanent administrative and financial resources to the Dickinson-in-China program. This more permanent commitment also heightened the interest of the student body, who each year supported WCUU more and more.

West China Union University was home to Dr. John W. Yost and then Reverend Raymond R. Brewer. The West China Educational Union tied in the old West China Mission where Reverend Frank D. Gamewell was once superintendent. The college taught all subjects and had strong international ties, including with America, England, Canada, etc. WCUU graduates became part of a leading class in China consisting of well trained professionals, intellectuals, and educators. Although the University was shutdown in 1926 and the WCEU was closed shortly thereafter when all foreigners were ordered to leave China, the Chinese scholars who remained there carried on, taught others, and made progess on their own. Therefore, WCUU had lasting effects on eduacation in China.


Below are a few pieces concerning WCUU that can be found in Dickinson's archives:
Note: These images are best viewed with Internet Explorer. To view in Netscape, open pop-up window, copy URL, open new browser window, and paste URL into location.

West China Union University's 1920 Annual Announcement: West China Union University's 1924-1925 Annual Announcement:
West China Union University's 1925 Graduation Program: West China Union University's 1929 Report to the Board of Governors:
Thanks to Robert Reeves and Drew Kaiden for their work on the Engaging the World-Dickinson in China website. Some information here is borrowed from that website.
Back to the top

HomeBiographiesWest China UnionCorrespondenceMagazine ArticlesNews & JournalsOther ArticlesFull Bibliography