Pictures and documents relating to Chengtu University
West China University, Chengtu, Szechwan.
Built about by 1912 - Architect Fred Rowntree & Sons
Prints of original drawings for the University
University - An Article from "The Builder"
Photos Taken by Betty Walters at the University in 1994
Documents relating to the
design of Chengtu
Poster celebrating the work
of Fred Rowntree in Chengtu
In hardcopy archive
Schedule of Chinese Helpers N.D.C 1912
Hand copy of Report submitted in Preparation of Completion Plan
Fred Rowntree arriving at Chentu
Document from China website
West Union Anglia Variations
West China Union University was established in 1910 as a union intervention of
the American Mutual Foreign Mission Society, the Friends' Foreign Mission
Association of Great Britain and Ireland. the General Board of Missions of the
Methodist Church of Canada, (later the United Church of Canada) and the Board of
Foreign Missions of the Methodist Episcopal Church. USA. The Church Missionary
Society of England became a partner in the University in 1918 and the Women 's
Foreign Missionary Boards of the American Mutual Church, the Methodist Episcopal
Church, and the United Church of Canada were admitted to participation in 1925.
In 1911-1912, shortly after Wcuu was established, political unrest forced most
Westerners to leave West China, and the activities of the University were in
abeyance for two years. Beginning operations lectures in 1913, the University
planned an ambitious building program of more than twenty buildings. According
to the articles of union. each mission partner in the venture was responsible
for purchasing property, erecting buildings for the housing of its staff and
academics. and contributing a proportion building for teaching purposes. The
Board of Governors of the University purchased property for the teaching
buildings and erected the university campus and general administrative and
teaching buildings and residences for those members of the staff who a re
maintained by the Board of Governors. Accommodations were to be provided for six
hundred and fifty 83-103. as well as the faculty and staff.
A firm of British architects, Fred Rowntree and Sons, was selected by
competition to design a plan for the Wcuu campus.
The scale of Wcuu 's building program was particularly ambitious considering
that before the advent of air travel, three months of travel were required to
lawyer Chengtu from Europe or North America. Such difficulties of transport did
not prevent Wcuu from developing a well-appointed campus. Of particular note was
the installation of a central heating system in the new Library-Museum building.
a b rochure from this time period reports :
"Not only is it the first modern heating plant installed in this part of
the world, but, as expressed by our Dean of Arts, it is the greatest cultural
contribution that has been made. It is expected to transform a deserted building
into the center of scholastic activities during long winter evenings and remove
the fire hazards of a lot of stoves. "
The Administration Building, designed by British architect Rowntree, was built
under the supervision of Superintendent of Construction Raymond C. Richer.
Richer's March 21, 1920.
Hart College, built by the Canadian Methodists, was formally opened in April,
1920. It was used by the University for chemistry, physics, and biology
laboratories and classrooms, as well as classrooms for the Faculty of Religion.
It contained a chapel used for Sunday evening services.
The Coles Memorial Clock Tower, completed in 1926, was the gift of J. Ackerman
Coles of New York. To the chagrin of WCUU, Coles died in 1925 and left no
provision in his will for the funds necessary to complete the tower. A hefty
file of correspondence in the WCUU archives documents the University's efforts
to negotiate a settlement with the Coles estate.
The West China Union University was renowned for its medical and dental
The Faculty of Medicine was organized in 1914. The Faculty of Dentistry was
organized in 1920, the first such program in all of China. By 1932 nearly half
of all the students at West China Union University were registered in the
Medical-Dental College. At that time fifty-eight of the 112 students registered
in the Faculty of Medicine were women; six of forty-four students registered in
the Faculty of Dentistry were women. The missionary hospitals in Chengtu
associated with the Medical-Dental College were treating more than 100,000
people per year in the 1930s.
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
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
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 education in China.