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In 1923, just two years before his untimely demise, the Founding Father of the Republic of China (ROC), Dr. Sun Yat-sen, established two universities, one civil and one military. The civil university was Kwangtung University (renamed Chungshan University in 1926), and the military university was Whampoa Military Academy. Both univserties generated remarkable contributions and played an important education role in modern Chinese history.

After Chungshan University (or Sun Yat-sen University) was established in Canton, it had to move south due to the Sino-Japanese War. The university moved first to Yunnan, and later to Yuehpei. Finally, in 1945, the university settled back to its original campus in Canton, and schooling continued.

In 1949, the government of the ROC moved to Taiwan. The National Sun Yat-sen University (NSYSU) was meant to be re-established, but the right timing never came along until 1980, when Dr. Huan Li established the university on its current campus at Sizihwan in Kaohsiung. Succeeding presidents Dr. Chin-chi Chao, Dr. Chi-Yuan Lin, Dr. Victor W. Liu, Dr. Chung-cheng Chang and current president Dr. Hung-Duen Yang, all carry the tradition of nurturing the university's growth and development. When it was established, the university had four departments, two graduate institutes, and 189 students. Today, the university has six colleges (Liberal Arts, Sciences, Engineering, Management, Marine Sciences, and Social Sciences) and over 9300 students, offering 19 undergraduate majors, 34 master programs, and 26 doctorate programs. NSYSU has grown tremendously  and is recognized as one of Taiwan’s important research and learning institution with international distinction.

Blessed with unique historical background, NSYSU enjoys the honor of being a university with outstanding tradition. Infused with the Taiwan experience after the re-establishment in Kaohsiung, NSYSU is a young and vivacious university with positive outlooks.