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In the 1970s, Taiwan's economic development took off, and society's attention to higher education increased day by day. At that time, all well-known universities were located in northern Taiwan, and there was not a single national university in the Kaohsiung-Pingtung area of southern Taiwan. To balance the development of education between the north and the south, the government decided to establish a comprehensive university in the south and named it "National Sun Yat-sen University" in honor of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the founder of the Republic of China. Enrollment began in the fall of 1980. To further commemorate Dr. Sun Yat-sen's achievements, the Ministry of Education granted the request to date Dr. Sun Yat-sen's birthday of November 12th as the anniversary of the University.

Dr. Huan LI, the first president, laid a solid foundation that paved the way for the University to grow. Under the leadership of his successors, Dr. Chin-Chi CHAO, Dr. Chi-Yuan LIN, Dr. Victor Wei-Chi LIU, Dr. Chung-Cheng CHANG, Dr. Hung-Duen YANG, and the current President Ying-Yao CHENG, the University has continued to thrive and become one of the best universities in the country. The University has seven colleges, including Liberal Arts, Science, Engineering, Management, Marine Sciences, Social Sciences, and the Si-Wan College, and about 9,500 students and 500 full-time faculty members — a medium-sized research university with equal emphasis on technology and humanities. The University has become an important academic hub in Southern Taiwan with the energy and competitive advantages of talent cultivation and academic research. It not only ranked among the crucial national research universities but also established itself as a world-renowned first-class university.

With the educational belief of upholding humanistic values, the University pursues academic excellence and promotes social mobility as its goals for development. In the future, with strong conviction and social responsibility, National Sun Yat-sen University will strive to be a first-class institution that aspires students, attracts outstanding talents, and produces graduates to contribute to the good of society.