Dr. P.W. Kuo (Kuo Ping-wen), President of the National Southeastern University, was born in Shanghai in 1880. He received his early education at the Lowrie Institute of Shanghai, from which he graduated in 1896 and taught for one year after graduation. From 1897 to 1906, Dr. Kuo served in the Customs and Postal Service at Shanghai, Kashing, and Hangchow. In 1906, he went to America to further his education. He studied at Wooster Academy for one year, and then took four years of collegiate work at the University of Wooster. During this period, he acquired an interest in educational work.
After his graduation at Wooster, he attended Columbia University at New York, where he specialized in education. In 1914, he received his Ph.D. degree. The subject of his doctorate dissertation was “The Chinese System of Public Education.” This has since been published in book form and is recognised as the most authoritative book on Chinese Education.
During his stay in America, Dr. Kuo manifested an unusual amount of leadership. He was President of the Chinese Students Alliance in the United States, General Secretary of the Chinese Students Christian Association, Editor-in-Chief of the Chinese Students Monthly, editor of the “Wooster Voice,” a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Fraternity and of the Tause Club.
After leaving Columbia, Dr. Kuo was elected Chairman of the Kiangsu Educational Commission to Europe and America. In 1914 he returned to China, and was made Dean of the Nanking Teachers College. In 1917, he was Chairman of Educational Commission to Japan and the Philippine Islands. In 1919, he was sent abroad, at the head of government commission, to study the after-war problems of Europe and America. Returning in September 1919, he was appointed President of the Nanking Teachers College. In the same year he declined the post of presidency of Tsinghwa College. In the year following, he devoted his time and energy, mainly, to the reorganization and improvement of the college; and his work was so successful, that, upon the proposed establishment of a national university at Nanking, he was immediately appointed the chairman of the organization committee.
Of this newly established National South-Eastern University, Dr. Kuo was formally appointed first president in September 1921; acting concurrently as President of the Nanking Teachers College and the Shanghai College of Commerce. He is President of the National Good Roads Association, President of the Chinese Scholastic Society, known as Phi Tau Phi, and a Director of the Commercial Press, Ltd., Shanghai, which has done a great deal of pioneer work in the translation of many valuable books from various Western languages into Chinese. Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary was translated into Chinese under his direction. Dr. Kuo has also directed the publication of many other books of reference. His knowledge of modern education causes him to be one the most sought after councillors, by other educational institutions as well as high officials of the government. Thus, he has been elected to serve on the Board of Trustees for a number of universities. Only very recently, he was invited to serve on the organization committee of the Kwangtung University, Canton. He has been honorable adviser to the military governor of Kiangsu, since 1918.
Dr. Kuo is especially interested in the work of the Chinese National Association for the advancement of education. From the very beginning, he was one of the most enthusiastic directors; and went to America, in 1923, for the sole purpose of representing it at the International Educational Conference, held at San Francisco. As a result of the valuable papers he presented at this conference, and of the reputation he has earned for himself as an educator, he was elected one of the vice presidents of the newly organized World Federation of Educational Associations. In the summer of the same year, he was awarded the degree of LL.D., at St. John’s University, as a recognition of his achievements in education.
A.R. Burt, J.B. Powell and Carl Crow, editors, Biographies of Prominent Chinese (Shanghai: Biographical Publishing Company Inc., c.1925), 88.