The Univ. of Wisconsin soccer team at the 1922 conference of the Chinese Students Alliance, Midwest Section. Held in Evanston, Illinois.

The University of Wisconsin's 1979 delegation to China, seen here with friends in Changsha, Hunan province.

Chancellor Irving Shain meeting at Peking University in 1979 with UW-Madison chemistry Class of 1924 alum Huang Ziqing 黄子卿。

Admission papers for geology pioneer Xie Jiarong 謝家榮.


"The ignorance of China on the part of Americans has been the cause of numerous deplorable misunderstandings and the result of lack of intercourse between the two peoples. To remedy this situation, nothing can be better than for the Chinese students to mingle with the Americans and let them learn from the living representatives instead of from the colored tales of China. For this reason it has been the aim of the Chinese students to scatter throughout this country. Thus, when I learned there were very few Chinese students in Madison, I came."

Guoktsai Chao, Class of 1910, President of the Wisconsin International Club


1910 – Master’s Degree in Education to Zhou Yichun 周詒春. Zhou wrote his 1910 master’s thesis (spelling his name Ye-Tsung Tsur) on the development of Wisconsin High Schools.  He returned to China to transform Beijing’s Tsinghua prep school into today’s leading university.  He designed the campus of today’s Tsinghua University and developed curriculum based in part on his experience in Madison, all the while encouraging students to study at his alma mater.

1920 – Master’s Degree in Geology to Xie Jiarong 謝家榮, who was the first in a group of five promising young Chinese geologists sent to UW-Madison for advanced study in the 1920s through an arrangement between the Chinese Geological Survey’s Ding Wenjiang and the chair of the UW Geology Department, Charles Leith. After completing his graduate work, Xie returned to China, where he was appointed to the Nationalist’s Ministry of Industry, and later to the PRC’s Ministry of Geology. He served as Dean of Peking University’s Department of Geology and was key to the discovery of oil fields in northwest China, including China’s largest, the Daqing Oil Field.

1922 – Bachelor’s Degree in Economics to Chen Daisun 陳岱孫, viewed as the founder of economics education in China; served as chair of economics and law at Tsinghua University.

1923 – PhD in Pharmacy to K.K. Chen 陳克恢, an internationally prominent pharmacist from Shanghai who led pharmacological research at Eli Lilly and is known for his work with ephedrine.

1925 – Master’s Degrees in Political Science (after also receiving his BS at UW) to Lung Chi Lo 罗隆基, participated in the drafting of the first constitution of the People’s Republic of China in 1954. Lo was one of the founders of the Chinese Democratic League (中国民主同盟) and participated in the first political consultative conference (政治协商会议) in 1949 under the auspices of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

1925 – Bachelor’s Degree in Literature to Sun Yu 孫瑜, influential leftist film director in 1930s Shanghai.

1926 – PhD in Organic Chemistry (after also completing his bachelor and master’s degrees at UW) to Peter P.T. Sah 薩本鐵, international known for his work on the analysis and synthesis of a wide variety of organic compounds, including vitamins and medicines for leprosy and tuberculosis. Dr. Sah was a professor at Peking University, Tsinghua University, and at the University of California-Davis.

1926 – Bachelor’s Degree in physical education to Zhang Huilan 張匯蘭, founder and dean of the Athletic Science Department at the Shanghai Athletic University. She was awarded a medal of honor by UNESCO in 1987 as the “Mother of Women’s Modern Physical Education in China.”

1972 – Bachelor’s Degree in Economics to Laura Cha 查史美倫. became the first female chair of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2018. Listed as #72 on the Forbes 2022 list of powerful women.

1987 – PhD in Atmospheric Science (after a Master’s Degree in Meteorology at UW) to Levin Zhu 朱云来 . He served as CEO of the Beijing-based China International Capital Corp (CICC) from 2004 – 2014. Son of former Chinese premier Zhu Rongji.

1990 – PhD in Electrical Engineering to Peter Hua 华平. He holds several patents, served as a managing partner with the Alibaba-affiliated Softbank China Venture Capital, and is currently a managing partner with SB China Venture Capital.

1995 – MBA in Finance, Investment & Banking to Rachel Duan 段小樱. She served as president and CEO of GE China, and is currently a director on the HSBC board, a British multinational bank.

(Photo and more Info Coming Soon)

UW-Madison alumni who have served as presidents of Chinese universities:

2017 – 2022: Xiamen University President Zhang Rong 厦门大学校长 张荣. Dr. Zhang served as a post-doctoral student in the lab of UW-Madison Chemical Engineering Professor Thomas Kuech in the 1990s.

2013-17: Shandong University President Zhang Rong 山东大学校长 张荣 (see above).

2005-14: Huazhong University of Science and Technology President Li Peigen 华中科技大学校长李培根. Dr. Li received his PhD in Mechanical Engineering at UW-Madison in 1987. He received a Distinguished Achievement Award from the College of Engineering in 2008.

1985-2002: Harbin Institute of Technology President Yang Shiqin  哈尔滨工业大学杨士勤 (UW visiting scholar in engineering, 1982).

1938-1941: Chongqing University President Ye Yuanlong 重庆大学校长 叶元龙 (UW B.A. 1921, M.A. 1922 in Economics).

1927-1952: Soochow University (formerly Dongwu University) President Yang Yongqing 东吴大学校长杨永清. Yang, who studied political science at UW-Madison in 1914 before transferring to Princeton, was the first Chinese president of this college, originally founded by American Methodists.

1913-1927: Donghua University (Nanyang Mining and Railway University before 1924 ) president, Zhu Wenxin 东华大学校长(1924年前称南洋路矿学校)朱文鑫 (UW B.A. in Mathematics/Astronomy, 1912).

1913-18: Tsinghua University President Zhou Yichun 清华大学校长周诒春 (UW MA in Education, 1910)

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Faculty Contributions


Professor Paul Reinsch

In thinking about why UW-Madison proved attractive to so many students from China in the early 1900s, the Department of Political Science points to one of its own, Prof. Paul Reinsch. President Woodrow Wilson named Prof. Reinsch the first American minister to post-imperial China in 1913.  Political Science department historian Crawford Young writes that Reinsch sparked “a striking flow of  doctoral students to the department in the interwar years.  Between 1929 and 1936, 7 of the 28 doctorates awarded went to Chinese scholars.”

King Hall

Franklin Hiram King, for whom King Hall (housing the Soil Science Department at 1475 Observatory Dr.) is named, was a Wisconsin native and professor at the University of Wisconsin from 1888-1902.  His best-known book, Farmers of Forty Centuries (King, 1911) discusses agricultural practices he observed during a nine-month trip to China, Japan and Korea in 1909.

Professor of plant pathology Arthur Kellman was among the first UW-Madison faculty members to visit China in the post-Mao era. Dr. Kellman traveled with a group of scientists to study China’s agriculture systems.  Horticulturalist Warren Gabelman and political scientist Edward Friedman also conducted research in 1970s China.

Professor S.M. Wu

Mechanical engineer Shien-Ming Wu was internationally known for his work to modernize automobile factories, but he also served as the main faculty mentor to a group known as “Shain Scholars.” These 461 scholars from the PRC were the first to return to UW-Madison after China reopened in the late 1970s. While almost 200 UW faculty members helped mentor Shain Scholars, most faculty worked with one or two. Professor Wu mentored 33. He is also a Badger alum, having earned his PhD from UW-Madison in 1962.

Professor Kuo-P’ing Chou

Kuo-P’ing Chou, linguistics professor at UW-Madison, 1952-1980.  She helped establish the Department of Chinese in 1960 and served as its first chair.  Renowned for her teaching skills and innovations in language instruction, she was among the first women on campus awarded Emeritus status. She also hired a graduate student in agricultural engineering, Gwang-tsai Arthur Chen, as a teaching assistant. He liked the work so much that he earned his PhD in Chinese Linguistics in 1971 and went on to a career of over 30 years teaching Chinese at his alma mater and offering numerous innovations in language learning.

Prof. Chow’s magnum opus.

Chow Tse-Tsung 周策縱, acclaimed historian of the May Fourth Movement,left Harvard in 1963 to join the faculty of the fledgling Department of East Asian Languages and Literature at UW-Madison.  He directed the program through most of the 1960s and 70s, directed over 20 dissertations, and drew large enrollments for his classes on calligraphy, history and literature.

Professor Yi-fu Tuan

Growing up in the Chinese port city of Tianjin informed the later scholarship of renowned geographer Yi-Fu Tuan 段義孚, considered the father of humanistic geography. Professor Tuan taught at UW-Madison from 1983-1998, and continued to be active on campus until his death in 2022. The Yi-Fu Tuan Lecture Series is still held on Friday afternoons in the Department of Geography.

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Timeline of Key Events

1907: First students from China enroll at the University of Wisconsin. The very first appears to have been a young man from Anhui, Louis Yu-fong Sun 孙裕方, who arrived in Madison on a summer tour of the U.S. and decided to stay. He summoned his cousin, Roy  Jee-fong Sun 孙季方, and then convinced a friend in Chicago, Juedan Tung-Shou Chen 陈同寿, to join them. All three studied engineering at UW and then transferred elsewhere.

1909: First woman from China to enroll. Wisconsin newspapers noted that Yun Yiu Wong 黄琴英 enrolled in the summer session, and then transferred to a school in Indiana. Her father was then a member of the Chinese Educational Mission to the U.S.

1910: First degrees offered to students from China were offered to seven men, three bachelor degrees (Guok-Tsai Chai 赵国材, Yet C. Owyang 欧阳月, and Chu-tung Tsai 蔡序东, all in the College of Letters and Science) and four master’s degrees (Lau-Chi Chang 张德熙,字柳池 and Kungchao Chu 朱公釗 in political science, Ye-Tsung Tsur 周诒春 in education, and Nae-Tsung Woo 吴乃琛 in political economy.

1913: UW Political Science Professor Paul Samuel Reinsch named by President Woodrow Wilson to become the first American minister to post-imperial China. He served in that capacity through 1919.

1917: The first degree awarded to a female student from China – Helen Chai, who attended UW along with her brother. She went on to become a member of the first Control Yuan of the Republic of China. Also in 1917, the UW library began its collection of Chinese materials by accepting a donation of books and journals from Chinese alumnus Yang Guangbi (杨光弼, who went on to become the first dean of the chemistry department at Tsinghua University).

1929: First wedding at Memorial Union was for two students from China, Tsao Shih Wang 王造时 and Tou Fang Chu 朱透芳. The ceremony was presided over by State Supreme Court Chief Justice Marvin B. Rosenberry, covered by the Wisconsin State Journal, and drew an audience of more than 200.

1950: Chinese language instruction is formally included in the university curriculum.

1962: A Department of Chinese created in the fall.  This later became part of the Department of East Asian Languages and Literature, which is now part of Asian Languages and Cultures.  The Center for East Asian Studies opened in the same year, one of eight federally-funded National Resource Centers on campus.

1965: The University hires its first Chinese Studies librarian, Chester Wang.

1979: Chancellor Irving Shain led one of the first university delegations to China of the post-Mao era, in the process launching a visiting scholar program that attracted hundreds of Chinese academics (now known as “Shain Scholars”) to Madison.  In 1980, UW-Madison had the largest PRC group on any American campus. Many of these scholars returned to China to become leading scientists and engineers.

A welcome banner for the UW-Madison delegation to China.

1980: UW-Madison hosted 88 scholars  for a summer conference on “Dream of the Red Chamber,” the great 18th century Chinese novel by Cao Xueqin. The international conference, which featured 42 papers presented over five days, was organized by UW-Madison Professor Chow Tse-tsung 周策縱 and was hailed as milestone in “redology” or Red Chamber research and believed to be the first post-Cultural Revolution international conference that Chinese scholars were allowed to attend.

1990: East Asian Legal Studies Center forms in the UW-Madison Law School.

2007: Wisconsin China Initiative (today’s Wisconsin China Resource) forms in the Division of International Studies to bring together faculty, alumni and leaders in business and government.

2008: Two-day conference on Intellectual Property (IP) Management, “From the Lab to the Market,” held at Nanjing University, organized by the UW Law School’s East Asian Legal Studies Center, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), and Nanjing University.

2013: Partnership with the School of Human Ecology and the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies to host talks on conservation and sustainability projects in China and a photography exhibit on Sichuan, “Evolving Landscapes.”

Evolving Landscapes exhibit at SoHE
Evolving Landscapes

2014: The Wisconsin China Initiative launches the Red Cap Lecture Series, funded by Wade and Bev Fetzer. This series featured talks on China’s economy by: Stephen Roach (alum and former chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia), Nicholas Lardy (alum and senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics), Yao Yang (alum and dean of the National School of Development at Peking University) and William Overholt (Harvard). These events were the largest East Asia events on campus from 2014-18, drawing about 200 per event.

Economist and alum Nicholas Lardy offering a Red Cap lecture in 2014.

2017: Screening of the PBS documentary “The Chinese Exclusion Act” along with a panel discussion with the filmmakers, Li-Shin Yu and Ric Burns.

2019: A UW-Madison official delegation to China results in the signing of a strategic partnership with Nanjing University.

Nanjing University President Liu Jin and UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank sign a Strategic Partnership.

May 22-26, Memorial Union: 2023 Summer Institute: Chinese Literature and the Global South: Writing, Translating, Reading, and Looking. Writers, poets and artists from India, the U.S. and China gathered along Lake Mendota for a week of conversations about literature, along with public events including a film screen, artists’ conversation, and public readings by the participants.

Student Profiles from the early 1900s

Students in alphabetical order, with their English names as they appeared at UW.

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Huei-lan Chang 张汇兰, Physical Education

Zhang Huilan 张汇兰, UW Class of 1926, was considered the “Mother of women’s physical education in China.” She was also among the first group of women to attend the UW-Madison.

Long-Chi Lo 罗隆基, Political Science

Lung Chi Lo 罗隆基, (B.A. 23, M.A. 25), born in 1898, was admitted to Tsinghua College in 1912 as the top student from Jiangxi Province.

In 1919, Lo joined the May Fourth Movement then sweeping the country as an anti-imperialist reaction to the Treaty of Versailles’ concessions to Japan. Lo became a student movement leader as the Tsinghua Student Union president. In 1922, Lo came to the United States to study and completed his undergraduate (1924) and master (1925) degrees at UW-Madison. His master’s thesis, “The Conduct of Parliamentary Elections in England,” can still be found in the Memorial Library collection. Lo was an activist during his years in Madison. In September 1923, Lo and his Chinese classmates organized a famous young patriot fraternity in Madison, the “Great River Society”大江学会. In May 1925, when the colonial armies of Western powers massacred protesters on the streets of Shanghai (known as the 五卅惨案), Lo led Madison’s Chinese students in donating to the patriotic movement in their homeland. He then traveled to New York and gathered more than 300 Chinese students for a protest at the campus of Columbia University over the involvement of American troops in the massacre.

See more in the feature story, “Three Heroes of Anfu

H.Y. Moh 穆藕初, Industrial Management

Mu Ouchu 穆藕初, 1876-1943, early leader in industrial management, studied at UW from 1909-11. He started out in agriculture, but soon became interested in the emerging field of management. Born into a family of Shanghai cotton merchants, he enrolled (under the name Hsian-yueh Moh) at UW as a special student in the College of Agriculture and joined the Chinese Students Club before transferring to the University of Illinois and then to Texas for further studies. Mr. Mu published a Chinese translation of Frederick Winslow Taylor’s influential monograph, “Principles of Scientific Management” and returned to China, where he established several large-scale cotton mills in Shanghai and Zhengzhou. He also sponsored young Chinese students interested in studying abroad, as he did, including at least one student at UW-Madison (Stewart Yui 余日宣).

In September, 2015, Mr. Mu’s 81-year-old son, Mu Jiaxiu 穆家修, followed in his father’s footsteps across America, including to visit Wisconsin and give a talk about his father.

Then in November 2016, Wisconsin China Resource representatives attended a conference about Mu Ouchu, held in Shanghai at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics.

Mu Ouchu’s son, Mu Jiaxiu (second from left), with Hong Zhou (far left) and Laurie Dennis (in red) of UW-Madison, and UW alum Kening Li (far right).

Wen-Ying Peng 彭文应, Political Science

Wenying Peng 彭文应,(B.A. 27), was born in 1904. Like Lung Chi Lo, he was admitted to Tsinghua College with the top ranking in Jiangxi Province.

He headed to UW-Madison in 1925 to study in the political science department, receiving his bachelor’s degree in 1927. He began his graduate work at Columbia University, earning his master’s degree in 1932. Peng could have pursued his doctoral studies, but the increasingly volatile situation in China, including the invasion of Manchuria by the Japanese, led to his decision to focus on countering Japanese propaganda. When the Japanese invaded Manchuria in 1931, he lectured in various towns in New York State, New Jersey, and across New England to offer Americans a Chinese perspective on what was happening in northern China. In 1932, he returned to China and became a university professor and columnist in Shanghai. Together with his UW-Madison classmate Tsao Shih Wang, he published respected essays including in the publications Claims and Criticisms《主张与批评》and Free Speech《自由言论》. He was the first in China to propose the construction of a democratic socialism and constitutional system with Chinese characteristics《社会主义之路比较通》. At the same time, he proposed to reform China’s education by referring to the American system of higher education and public education《教育的根本改造》.

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Chu-Tung Tsai 蔡序东 , Political Science

Cai Xudong 蔡序东, UW Class of 1910, was in the first cohort of seven Chinese students to receive UW degrees, and he was also in the first group of 4 to register at UW for the fall semester of 1907, therefore in some ways he can be considered our first Chinese Badger.

He was convinced to attend UW rather than an East Coast school by Paul Reinsch, the first American minister to post-imperial China and a former UW professor of political science (see above under the “faculty contributions” section).

His thesis in the Class of 1910 commencement program (where he is listed as Chu-Tung Tsai of Shanghai) was, “The origin of extraterritoriality in China or the status of foreigners in China during the pre-conventional period.”

After graduation, Cai served as secretary to Republic of China Premier Wu Ting Fang, and then as assistant commissioner of foreign affairs in Shandong Province.

He died in 1914 of an illness while in North Carolina.

Wen-Shion Tsu 朱文鑫 , Astronomy

A founding father in the history of astronomy in China.

 Zhu Wenxin 朱文鑫  came to the UW through Tsinghua University’s Boxer Indemnity (庚子赔款) program, enrolling in 1908, and listed as a native of Suzhou, interested in astronomy. He was among the first Chinese students on our campus (the very first arrived in 1907), and is pictured in yearbooks as a member of the university’s International Club, and then as a member, and later president, of the newly-formed Chinese Students’ Club. His graduation thesis (with his name spelled as Wen-Shion Tsu) was titled, “On the Systems of Tangent Circles” and he also gave a talk on this topic to Madison’s Mathematical Club. He received his bachelor’s degree in 1912 from the College of Letters and Science.
After graduation, Zhu returned to China to teach mathematics, and served as the president of what became the Nanyang Mining and Railway University, 1913-27.
As the field of astronomy began to modernize in China, Zhu emerged as an important compiler, translator and historian of the topic, and wrote numerous important volumes on the history of traditional Chinese astronomy and Western astronomy.
On September 2, 2021, the International Astronomical Union named asteroid 300634 Chuwenshin in recognition of his astronomical achievements.

Ko-en Wong 黄国恩, Law

First to receive a law degree. LLB 1911.

From Hankow, Hubei Province.

More details coming soon.

Kwang-Pi Young 杨光弼, Chemistry

B.S. in Chemistry in 1915; M.S. in chemistry in 1917.

The first dean of Chemistry Department of Tsinghua University (1926).

Donated books to UW that started our Chinese collection.

More details coming soon.