Building an 'Eastern Harvard' in China

January 29, 2014
By Dang BofengEditor: Amanda Wu

I ask for nothing in return to run the university. I just adhere to the non-profit principle in private higher education so as to enable every child can receive good education.

--- Ding Jing, president of Xi'an Fanyi University

Building an 'Eastern Harvard' in China

Ding Jing serves as president of Xi'an Fanyi University. []

As president of Xi'an Fanyi University, Ding Jin is working hard to develop her private university in northwest China's Shaanxi Province into the "Eastern Harvard."

Ding is an elegant and intellectual woman embodied with wisdom, dedication and innovation. She holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Seattle University.

"Building an 'Eastern Harvard' is not only my dream but also that of my father. When I took over the lofty educational flag from my father, I immediately felt the heavy responsibility on my shoulder," said Ding, whose father Ding Zuyi (1939-2012) founded the university in 1987.

Her father died on March 12, 2012, leaving Ding to take charge of the university with about 30,000 teachers and students. Despite the painful bereavement, Ding managed to lead the university through this period of hardship.

Then Shaanxi Province Governor Zhao Zhengyong thought highly of Ding's work, stating the words "very happy, very satisfied and very reassured" when he inspected the university on April 26, 2012.

He also expressed his hope that Xi'an Fanyi University should be built into a brand card for Shaanxi's non-government funded education.

Ding believes that private education should take the development path of internationalized education and should attach importance to the connotative development and the qualitative leap.

Ding has her own educational idea: challenging academic diplomas to develop high-end simultaneous interpreters in all English-speaking environments, and establishing a compound and practical talent training mode of "foreign language + specialty +modern professional skills."

Since it was founded 26 years ago, the university's first employment rates have maintained above 90 percent and its students have won first place in various national translation competitions.

Harvard University's motto "Let Plato be your friend, and Aristotle, but more let your friend be truth" was also the dream that Ding's father had, to build an "Eastern Harvard" on behalf of the generations of Chinese people.

As the president of Xi'an Fanyi University, Ding has been focused on her father's great dream.

It's a rare private university that hasn't applied for loans, but has run in a virtuous cycle in China's private education sector.

In December 2011, Shaanxi Province issued a notice supporting and regulating the development of private higher education, which stipulated that all private colleges should be brought under a classified management system in the province into two categories:  for-profit and non-profit colleges. Private colleges can make independent choices and applications.

Ding was the first person to declare her position of developing her university into a non-profit institution, vowing to spend every penny on students and to carry forward the lofty public welfare idea in education.

Ding's noble and selfless character is down to earth. When her father died, many of his friends donated consolation money amounting to 670,000 yuan (US$ 110,684) at the memorial ceremony, while Ding and her family donated the consolation money, plus her father's savings, which totaled to one million yuan (US$ 165,200) to Xi'an Fanyi University to establish "Ding Zuyi Scholarships" for students from low-income families to complete their education.

This is Ding's spiritual sublimation, as well as the unselfish sentiment of Chinese private educators.

With her smart, generous and up-to-date educational ideas, Ding has made great contributions to the development of Shaanxi's private education.

Her pragmatism and competence well reflects the spirit of "self-esteem, self-confidence, self-reliance and self-improvement", advocated by the All-China Women's Federation.

Ding has won various awards, such as one of the Shaanxi 2013 Outstanding Educators, Excellent Member of the Translators Association of China, and the Shaanxi 2013 March 8th Red-banner Pace-setters award, an honor for exemplary workers or collectives from all walks of life who have made extraordinary achievements.

Despite all the honors, Wang will, as always, move forward to build her university into a first-class private school into an "Eastern Harvard" to serve people and make them satisfied.

(Source: and edited by

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