Ding Shisuns Death: Ji Xianlins One of the Two Principals of Peking University worth remembering

 Ding Shisuns Death: Ji Xianlins One of the Two Principals of Peking University worth remembering

Ding Shisun was president of Peking University from March 1984 to August 1989.

Ding Shisun, the 26th president of Peking University, is not a very famous figure in the history of Peking University for more than 100 years. Even in the archives of Peking University, we can only find a few photos. But Ji Xianlin, a well-known scholar of Peking University, once wrote such a sentiment in the newspaper on the centenary anniversary. He said that in the history of Peking University, there were two presidents worth remembering. One was Cai Yuanpei, known as the father of Peking University, and the other was Ding Shisun.

Photo Source: Wechat Public Number Bright Micro Education


Moderator: I have seen a comment that Mr. Ji Xianlin made on the president of Peking University. He once said that there were two very successful presidents in the history of Peking University. One was Mr. Cai Yuanpei, the other was Mr. Ding Lao. How did you react to his comment?

Ding Shisun: Im a little flattered because Mr. Ji knows me well and I respect him very much, but he didnt tell me about it. When the school was celebrated, it was published in the newspaper. Later, someone showed it to me. I said, well, its too high. I said I didnt do so much in Peking University.

Host: How do you evaluate you as a principal in school?

Moderator: Nobody thinks you are the headmaster?

Ding Shisun: Nobody regards me as a very important person. This is my great achievement.



Ding Shisun: I often ride my bicycle around the campus. Anyone can pull me off the bicycle and complain and criticize me.

Ding Shisun: I listen to school work, which means that no one is afraid of me.

Host: Why dont anyone be afraid of you and you succeed?

Ding Shisun: I said its important for me to put myself in the right place.


Peking University is the most famous institution of higher learning in China. The unnamed lake at dusk reminds us of the lakes nourishment to Chinese culture and education for hundreds of years. A hundred years of Yanyuan is like a stage where wonderful shows are always on. Before 1984, Ding Shisun never thought that one day he would stand in the center of the stage.

In 1983, Ding Shisun was a visiting scholar at Harvard University. Before going to the United States, he resigned as the head of the Department of Mathematics of Peking University, intending only to learn. But just a month before he returned home, a paper appointment made the 57-year-old math professor redefine his life coordinates.

Photo Source: Wechat Public Number Bright Micro Education


Ding Shisun: At that time, I felt that I had a deep feeling for Peking University. After overthrowing the Gang of Four, I was not satisfied with the work of Peking University. So I thought it might be a little good for Peking University to let me do this.

Host: So did you take into account the challenges you face, or did you succeed in picking up the principal?

Ding Shisun: I remember that I once said this to my friends in America. I said I would fight when I went back.

Host: Fighting?

Ding Shisun: I said Im not just fighting in general. I said I have to fight from side to side. Thats my estimate of the difficulty.

Moderator: Around the left and right?

Ding Shisun: Yes, there will be different opinions.


In March 1984, in the 32nd year of Ding Shisuns arrival at Peking University, he was promoted from an original low-key scholar to the high-profile presidency. In many peoples eyes, Ding Shisun is the right candidate for the presidency. He knows all kinds of accumulated shortcomings in the development of Peking University, and when he was the chairman of the Department of Mathematics, he managed the first Department of Peking University, which gathered the first-class mathematicians in China, to the top of the whole school. Among them, the temperament and ability he displayed are exactly what Peking University needs in the new era.

On his first day as principal, the low-key scholar made such a statement.


Ding Shisun: I just said, dont expect me to have three fires. I dont think Chinas problem is solved by three fires. I said I only hope that my president can make the next president a little less difficult. I think my personal work is very specific, I dont have much, how to say, I dont have a great ideal.

Host: You dont have a great ideal?

Ding Shisun: I have never set a goal for my own affairs in my life. I said I just hope I can do the current things well every day. So sometimes I joke that Im a man of no ambition. Looking back, maybe this is a great advantage of my life.

Moderator: Do you think it has become one of your strengths instead?

Ding Shisun: But I try to do everything as well as I can.

Moderator: Or you avoid a kind of high-spirited, you will do everything in a down-to-earth manner.

Ding Shisun: Yes.

Compere: also can see actually when you do a job, still be a kind of very cautious actually, very gradual such a kind of reform.

Ding Shisun: I seldom make such mistakes. Of course, I make such mistakes occasionally. I decide to do it too fast.

Ding Shisun: Thats too deep. Because I was a principal for a few days, I found that Peking University has two attached secondary schools. One is attached middle school, the other is attached middle school. The first attached middle school is the focus of Beijing, and the second attached middle school is the former principal who can not resist the pressure of teachers, because the focus can not be ordinary students, many children can not enter the attached middle school. So soon I was told that the waste of two attachments should be merged. At that time, I still thought about the problem more simply. I had one or two seminars and decided to merge. At that time, I met with a lot of nails. At that time, the teachers of the First Affiliated High School resolutely resisted, because they were key middle schools. He said how could I be with these people? At that time, the Minister of Education called again and said how I could mix the focus of Beijing with that of ordinary middle schools. This is a big nail I touched.

Host: What should I do, I have to take it back?

Ding Shisun: Take it back.

Host: This is the first nail in office.

Ding Shisun: Big nails.

Host: What did you think at that time? Did you think that the president of Peking University was not right?

Ding Shisun: I think Im still reckless.

Photo Source: Wechat Public Number Bright Micro Education

Source: Daily Economic News Responsible Editor: Yang Zeyu_NF6036