A former Chancellor and one of the instrumental figures behind the creation of the University of Nottingham Ningbo (UNNC) has died. Professor Yang Fujia passed away on 17 July 2022 at the age of 86.
A renowned nuclear physicist, he became Nottingham’s sixth Chancellor in 2001, the first time that a Chinese academic had held the role in a UK university. In 2004 along with the then Vice-Chancellor Colin Campbell and Madame Xu Yafen he helped to establish UNNC, the first Sino-foreign university in China.
Born in Shanghai in 1936, Yang attended Fudan University where he remained as a teacher after graduating in 1958. From 1963 to 1965, he took up the role of postdoctoral researcher at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark, but after returning home to China, he established the state-of-the-art Accelerator-based Atomic and Nuclear Physics Laboratory and began China’s first research into ion beam analysis. In 1993 he became the president of Fudan University where he stayed until 1999. He joined Nottingham in 2001.
These prestigious roles gave him profound insights into the development of higher education and talent cultivation in China. He advocated the idea of liberal arts education, speaking and writing actively on various occasions to promote the reform of higher education in China. He once said: “I was fortunate enough to be the Chancellor of the University of Nottingham for 12 years. I visited countless universities around the world and gradually understood what liberal arts education is. Naturally, I am also thinking about whether this excellent teaching system can be migrated to China.”
Yang Fujia promoted the establishment of the University of Nottingham Ningbo China, which opened a new model of Sino-foreign cooperative education and injected a much-desired vitality into Chinese universities, and served as UNNC’s first President. He adhered to three principles: first, a focus on teaching quality; second, an insistence that education should ‘ignite the flame in students' hearts’; and third, the understanding that we are ‘human beings first, professionals second’. Through a life dedicated to exploring and practicing this educational philosophy it was his wish to provide high-quality international education in China and cultivate high-end innovative and international talent for the country in the future.
Yang Fujia was also Director of the Shanghai Institute of Nuclear Research of the Chinese Academy of Sciences from 1987 to 2001, Chairman of the Shanghai Science and Technology Association (1992–1996), and he was the first president of the Association of University Presidents of China (1997–1999).
Posted on 19th July 2022