Northwest Normal University (NWNU) is a key university under the joint construction of the People’s Government of Gansu Province and the Ministry of Education of China. It is also one of the 14 state-supported universities in western China. The predecessor of NWNU is the National Beiping Normal University, which originates from the Normal School of the Metropolitan University founded in 1902. After the "July 7 Incident" of 1937, Beiping Normal University was incorporated into the National Beiping University and the BeiYang Engineering Institute. The new incorporation was named as the Northwest Union University, and the National Beiping Normal University reconstructed itself as an affiliated normal school and became independent in 1939 after being renamed as the National Northwest Normal Institute and moved to Lanzhou City In 1941. Before 1958, the National Northwest Normal Institute was one of the six key normal institutes directly under the administration of the Ministry of Education. In 1958, the administration of the Institute shifted to Gansu Province. The Institute was renamed as Gansu Normal University thereafter, but resumed its name as Northwest Normal Institute in 1981, and finally renamed as the Northwest Normal University in 1988 until now.
In 1985, the Northwest Normal University set up the Northwest Ethnic Minority Teachers Training Center directly under the Ministry of Education, with the administrative system featuring "Two Plaques, One Leading Board". In 1987, Tibetan Teachers’ Training Center under the State Council was established in the University. Under the commitment of the Ministry of Education, the University has established a good number of institutes and organizations such as the Elementary Education Curriculum Reform Research Center, the Northwest Ethnic Minority Education Development Research Center, the National Key Constructing Base of Training Teachers for Vocational Education, the National Base of Training Teachers for Physical Education, the Mentors’ Training Base for the Ministry of Education, the Key Lab of Eco-Environmental Macromolecule Materials, and the NWNU Chinese Language and Culture Education Base. Still, under the commitment of the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the State Council, and under the commitment of Gansu Province, 25 research institutes such as Gansu Cultural Development Institute and Gansu Educational Development Institute, as well as 4 provincial-level key labs were established. Up to now, NWNU has set up 26 colleges, 1 Independent Institute, 70 departments, 2 teaching departments, 160 teaching and research centers (institutes), and 41 labs (experimental centers).
NWNU enjoys a favorable circumstance. Its campus occupies a total area of 960 hectares, and its new campus covers 729 hectares. It also covers 3600 hectares of green lands and construction compensation lands. All of the campus buildings cover a floor space of 820 thousand square meters, 395.8 thousand square meters of which are teaching buildings and auxiliary buildings. The total value of the teaching facilities is up to 20,534 million Yuan. The university library has a collection of more than 3.49 million volumes. The University also established a modern network system for public education services, such as the distance education network, the comprehensive teaching affairs management network, the campus computers network, communication network and cable TV network.
About 180,000 students have graduated from NWNU since its independence. The enrollment of the University has covered 31 provinces (cities and autonomous regions) and the number of the graduates is up to 35,200 now, among which 5600 are postgraduates and doctors, 16,900 undergraduates, and 12,700 adult students. NWNU has launched 5 undergraduate teaching reform programs consecutively. In 2003, NWNU was awarded the Prize of Excellency for its undergraduate teaching by the steering committee of the Ministry of Education, and in 2008, its discipline of English Education for Undergraduates was awarded the Prize of Excellency by the Ministry of Education as well.
NWNU boasts a well-organized and high-quality teaching staff of 2,547, among which 1,303 are full-time teachers, 292 professors and 716 associate professors. Among the full-time teachers, 410 are doctors, 624 postgraduates, 3 academicians, 101 doctoral supervisors, 696 master students’ supervisors, 1 “National Distinguished Teacher”, 1 “Yangtze River Scholar”, 2 national teaching teams and 1 innovation team under the Ministry of Education. The University has employed more than 380 experts and scholars as specially employed professors or part-time professors, among whom 10 are academicians from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Academy of Engineering. Prominent professors such as Lizheng, Li Jinxi, Yuan Dunli, Dong Shouyi, Li Jianxun, Hu Guoyu, Lv Sibai, Kong Xianwu, Chang Shuhong, Chenyong, Huangzhou, Pengduo, Guo Jinxi, Cheng Guodong, Xue Qunji, Li Bingde, Jin Baoxiang, Jin Shaoying, Nan Guonong have taught successively in the University.
NWNU is among the first to be entitled the academic degree granting authority ratified by the State Council to confer Bachelor’s degree, Master’s Degree and Doctorate since 1982. At present, the University has 6 postdoctoral research centers for Pedagogy, Chinese Language and Literature, Histology, Mathematics and Chemistry; 7 first-grade disciplines (Pedagogy, Chemistry, Chinese Language and Literature, Histology, Mathematics, Physics, Geography), 50 second-grade disciplines and 1 specialty with Doctorate grantingauthority; 32 first-grade disciplines,157 second-grade disciplines and 11 specialties with master’s degree granting authority; 2 national key disciplines, 1 innovation team under the Ministry of Education, 16 provincial-level key disciplines, 33 university-level key disciplines and 66 Bachelor’s specialties such as English, Mathematics and Applied Mathematics, Art, Chinese Language and Literature, Geography, Physics, Histology, Chemistry and Bio-Science. NWNU has established a fairly good academic degrees accreditation system, covering 10 academic fields such as Philosophy, Economics, Law, Pedagogy, Literature, Histology, Science, Engineering, Management and Art.
NWNU also boasts a strong scientific research capability. In recent years, the SCIE-included research papers relevant to the basic theory of natural sciences continuously ranked within the top 10 among the national normal universities. The social sciences of the University boast several distinctive and superior disciplines such as Western History and Geography, Ethnic Education, Curriculum and Teaching Theories, Ancient Books Systematization and Dunhuang Studies. The University has also won 440 awards at the provincial level, ministerial level and above: 1 national award of "the Five one Program", 2 national third-prize awards and 73 provincial awards for scientific and technological progress,6 awards conferred by the Ministry of Education for advanced achievements in humanities and social sciences research, 5 national awards for excellence in educational science research ( among which 3 are second-prize awards and 1 lifetime achievement award), 329 provincial awards for advanced achievements in social sciences research and 28 provincial Awards of Dunhuang Literature and Art, just to name a few.
The University has conducted international exchange and cooperation extensively, established cooperative relationships with more than 120 universities, set up research institutes and international organizations in more than 40 countries and China Taiwan province as well as Hong Kong Administrative Region, held more than 50 large-scale international academic conferences and educated more than 1,100 overseas students. Up to now, NWNU has established 2 Confucius Institutes with the University of Khartoum of Sudan and the Free International University of Moldova.
NWNU affiliates include the Affiliated Educational Group, the Affiliated No. 1 Middle School, the Affiliated No.2 Middle School, the Affiliated Primary School and the Affiliated Kindergarten. All of them enjoy good reputation and are exemplary schools of Gansu Province and Lanzhou City. They showcase the educational reforms of NWNU and serve as the educational internship bases of NWNU.
The University takes the initiative to meet the need of local economic and social development, strengthens the research in the fields of applied sciences and soft sciences, and promotes actively the transformation of research achievements, thus having yielded lots of representative achievements, profitable economic returns and profound social effects.
At present, under the urgent demand of the economic and social development of Gansu Province and the western area as a whole, NWNU is working hard to establish itself as a first-class university targeting at training first-class teachers in western areas, and as a high-level university across China with distinctive academic features and superior disciplines.