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About CNU
1952 CNU history

The Establishment of CNU

The Honam region has long cherished its tradition of valuing justice (義) and artistry (藝). Based on this tradition, Chonnam National University (CNU) set sail in Gwanjgu, at the center of the Honam region on June 9, 1952. The university emerged from the ashes of the Korean War with the support of local citizens who wanted to foster talented students. Even though CNU was established only about 60 years ago, it is celebrating more than 100 years of tradition because of the schools that were merged under CNU.

Before CNU came into existence, Honam was a home to several colleges and schools: Gwangju Agricultural College, for instance, which had been changed from Gwangju Agricultural School founded in 1909; Provincial Mokpo Commercial College, which evolved from Mokpo Commercial School founded in 1920; Provincial Gwangju Medical College, which developed from Gwangju Medical Professional School established in 1944; and Private Daesung College, which emerged from Daesung Boarding School founded in 1951. After the foundation of South Korea, the demand for competent and educated citizens escalated rapidly. Against this backdrop, local residents of Gwangju and Jeollanam-do yearned to establish a systematic institute for higher education. Their efforts bore fruit on September 16, 1951, with the creation of the Supporting Association for Establishing CNU.

To establish the university, the Association started by raising funds from local citizens. On October 6, 1951, it acquired the authorization to establish CNU as a national university. On January 1, 1952, CNU with five colleges was established: The College of Agriculture (formerly Gwangju Agricultural College), College of Business (formerly Mokpo Commercial College), College of Humanities (formerly Private Daesung College), College of Medicine (formerly Provincial Gwangju Medical College), and a newly opened College of Engineering. On June 1, 1952, the appointment of Dr. Choi Sang-chae as the first President, as well as eight Deans, superintendents, and a chief of the offices, gave CNU the structure and functions of a university. Finally, on June 9, 1952, the citizens of Gwangju witnessed CNU’s historic opening ceremony.

When it started, CNU consisted of 2 administration offices (the Office of Academic Affairs and Student Affairs, and Office of Administrative Affairs), the five aforementioned colleges, and the Graduate School of Medicine, which had been authorized in May 1950 as the Provincial Gwangju Medical College.

The Development of CNU

CNU quickly established itself as a reputable university. It enacted school regulations and a school press, built libraries, and founded the College of Law in 1954. However, in the 1960s, CNU became involved in political turmoil, such as the April Revolution in April 1960, which shook South Korea, and permanently changed the country’s history. CNU was at the center of forming and leading public opinions, through the May 16 Coup (1961), the enforcement of theLaw for National Reconstruction (1961), and the protest against the summit meeting between South Korea and Japan (1964). Meanwhile, the Colleges of Agriculture and Business and the Department of Chemical Engineering were forced to shut down. They were revived between 1961 and 1965. Despite the chaos, CNU continued its efforts to stabilize itself. It founded the internship program at the medical college in 1960. The Language Research Center, Students’ Guidance Institution, Honam Culture Institution, and other research centers opened in 1963. Furthermore, on July 6, 1965, the Professors’ Committee came into existence. It actively participated in campaigns to achieve better conditions for faculty members, requesting a renovation in the system for research professors and more financial support for the local national universities from the government. The Graduate School of Business was established in 1969.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, CNU experienced not only rapid physical growth but also hardship due to the political upheaval. The administrative system, which consisted in 1969 of one office, one bureau, two centers, and six colleges with 28 departments, had grown to include one more office, two more centers, and two more colleges with 35 more departments. Around this time, the Experimental College System was introduced in 1972 with the aim of renovating higher education in Korea by recruiting freshmen according to their areas of study, decreasing the number of compulsory credits, and allowing the early graduation of elite students. At this time, the campus was energetic with the sound of construction as new classrooms and faculty buildings were constructed. Private residences on campus were eliminated and Yongji, the artificial pond on campus, was created to add beauty to the study environment.

In the 1980s, CNU faced a period of utmost political turbulence as the May 18 Democratization movement broke out at the CNU Main Gate. The national government’s oppressive military regime brought about a widespread civil resistance. CNU students and professors rose up against the dictatorship and sacrificed themselves to restore the democracy in the country. In spite of the turmoil, which caused great casualties among students, CNU continued to push toward a competent system as an institution for higher education with autonomy in separate academic fields. The College of Humanities was divided into the College of Humanities and Social Studies and the College of Natural Sciences in 1979. In 1987, the College of Humanities and Social Studies was divided into the College of Humanities and the College of Social Studies. The Colleges of Dental Medicine, Pharmacy, and Art were established in 1980, 1981, and 1981, respectively. The College of Veterinary Medicine was spun off from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in 1988, the College of Human Ecology from the College of Natural Science in 1989, and the College of Nursing from the Medical School in 2005. The Graduate School of Education opened in 1975, the Graduate School of Public Administration in 1979, and the Graduate School of Industry and Technology in 1989.

With the onset of the 21st century, CNU has stepped up to contribute to the local community and also to become a specialized educational institution to train experts for the Knowledge Information Era by systemizing its post-secondary education. On March 1, 2006, CNU merged with the former Yeosu University, which has a 90-year history, to form an integrated Chonnam National University. The physical size of the school became larger with the merger. The administrative organization was transformed into 9 offices (4 Cheo, 1 Kuk, and 4 Bonbu). The academic division of the school came to house 53 majors and 55 departments in 16 colleges and 17 divisions. The university also became home to 11 graduate schools (including 5 Special Graduate Schools and 5 Professional Graduate Schools), 18 affiliated facilities (including 3 Special Committees) and 2 Legal Bodies. Furthermore, CNU founded the CNU Human Rights Center and Legal Clinic to promote welfare and uphold human rights among students and faculty members.

With Pride & Hope, CNU Sheds Light on the World that Cherishes Truth

CNU is leaping forward in great spirits to establish itself as a university that stands up for the country and community in difficulties and dedicates itself to liberty, peace, democracy and human rights. To secure its name as a first-class university with global competence, CNU put forward the slogans of 'Pride & Hope.’ It is with ‘Shedding light on the World that Cherishes Truth’ as its mission and ‘Multidisciplinary Education, Prosperous Research, and Happy Community’ as its ultimate goal.

CNU came up with 100 essential tasks under five main goals to fulfill the university’s social obligations: (1) in Education: “CNU Members with Readiness and Long-term Perspectives” (2) in Research: “CNU as a Sincere Companion for Scholars” (3) for Local Community: “University in Progress with Respect from Local Residents” (4) in Welfare: “CNU as a supportive ground for accompaniment” (5) in Administration: “CNU dreaming for the future with reasonable decisions based on commons sense.” With these goals, CNU is striving to enhance the competence in education through multidisciplinary curricula to foster students with imaginative power with humanities education and creativity with engineering studies. CNU also aims to raise its pride and trust as a leading national university with excellent research accomplishments by supporting scholars on campus. In addition, to inherit the glorious tradition and history of CNU as a prestigious university in the Honam area, CNU will never cease its efforts to provide a locus for discourses of local communities, build a basis for the development of the local economy, and provide opportunities for life time education for local residents. Furthermore, CNU will encourage its members to form a sound and harmonious community on campus for students to form and share sound and desirable culture, and for faculty members to build an environment for coexistence in various tasks and duties. These efforts will ultimately lead CNU to becoming a prestigious national flagship university with respect for diversity and autonomy, and steadfast principles for innovation.

Welcoming its 67th anniversary in 2019, CNU became a truly global university that is connected with 477 universities across 59 countries around the world with 2,000 international students. In addition, more than 2,700 research projects have been undertaken per annum in this research-oriented university, which received the largest amount of research funding among national universities. Furthermore, CNU has provided various programs for employment, start-ups, and the regeneration of student culture, and also further extended the benefits of programs with local communities for mutual development. This is the CNU of Gwangju and Yeosu in 2019.