The professors from Purdue University with their wives in 1959 (Picture by courtesy of the National Cheng Kung University Museum)


A Cooperation Program with Purdue University Was Initiated in 1953, Laying the Foundations for NCKU’s Success

The cold war took place in the aftermath of World War II when the Soviet Union tried to lead other communist countries to hold sway over the world and the United States used its economic powers to help its allies. In 1950, the Korean War broke out, the United States dispatched its 7th Fleet to the Taiwan Strait to prevent attacks, in addition to giving generous donations of flour and cotton to Taiwan and helping to promote change and equality in education. Hence Taiwan’s higher education started to develop.

During roughly the same period, the National Security Agency, a U.S. national-level intelligence agency, asked Dr. Da-Jun Qin, then president, if he was considering seeking help from a U. S. university with similar characteristics. The president then appointed Prof. Hung-Feng Sun as the dean of academic affairs to see this matter wrapped up. In the winter of 1952, Dr. Norris Shreve at Purdue University paid visits to National Taiwan University and NCKU, during his trip to Taiwan. Then he successfully convinced the board of directors at Purdue University to help NCKU improve its education. This was the beginning of the cooperative relationship between Purdue University and NCKU.

NCKU had gained a lot from cooperating with this prestigious university over the 14 years’ course. It is not an overstatement to say that the support of Purdue University has made NCKU a top-ranking university in Taiwan. In addition to helping to expand the library and school facilities as well as campus constructions, Purdue University also went to great lengths to improve the administrative procedures and teaching methods at the university. From the time onward, NCKU started to adopt American pedagogy that focuses on hands-on learning instead of German pedagogy, which was prevalent under the Japanese rule. By using new textbooks for a more comprehensive curriculum and expanding laboratory space and equipment, NCKU students were given ample opportunities to do science experiments and participate in group discussions. Unlike their seniors who were only given demonstrations and lectures by teachers, NCKU students began to learn from hands-on training and become a critical thinker with problem-solving skills.

Another key to NCKU’s success as a higher educational institution is a group professors sent by Purdue University to offer advice and guidance to NCKU. Over that period of time, a total of twelve professors had been sent to teach at our departments, in addition to four experts of relevant fields. NCKU also sent 29 professors abroad so they could benefit from exchange of ideas and stimulation at Purdue University and provide students with cutting-edge knowledge when they returned from overseas trips. To motivate the students at the College of Engineering to study harder, Prof. 雷輔立, a consultant in physics from Purdue University, decided to create rigorous criteria to assess students’ performance and demanded students enrolled in physics and calculus courses take bi-weekly tests at the Ge-Chi Hall every other Friday evening. Hence Black Friday and an unforgettable experience for alumni.

From the time the agreement with Purdue University was signed in early summer of 1953 till its termination, a broad range of changes had been made to the university’s operations, laying the foundations for the transformation of NCKU in the years to come.

The then president Da-Jun Qin talked with Prof. Freel from Purdue University in the president’s office (Picture by courtesy of the National Cheng Kung University Museum)

The most unforgettable biweekly test taken every other Friday; hence dubbed “Black Friday.” (Picture by courtesy of the National Cheng Kung University Museum)

The chemical lab of the Dept. of Chemical Engineering in 1955 (Picture by courtesy of Prof. Shreve)

The direct current circuits laboratory of the Dept. of Electrical Engineering (Picture by courtesy of the National Cheng Kung University Museum)

A farewell party held for Prof. 雷輔立 in 1958 (Picture by courtesy of the Dept. of Electrical Engineering)

The college was upgraded to Taiwan Provincial Cheng Kung University in 1956, showing its higher research capacity