Yunnan Minzu University is a comprehensive institution of higher education for all Chinese ethnic groups. It is also a provincial key university co-founded by the State Ethnic Affairs Commission and the People’s Government of Yunnan Province. As one of China’s earliest universities intended for all ethnic groups, YMU was founded on August 1, 1951, in Kunming, a beautiful city known for its mild weather all year round. The university, formerly known as Yunnan Institute for the Nationalities, was renamed as Yunnan Minzu University in April 2003.
The top leaders of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chinese government have been showing their solicitude for the development of the university since its founding. Mao Zedong, Liu Shaoqi, Zhu De, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao ever interviewed representatives of YMU faculty and students; Zhou Enlai, Peng Dehuai, Chen Yi, Li Lanqing and some other central government leaders paid visits to the university and showed their concerns for career success of the students and teachers and development of the university. General Zhou Baozhong and General Zhang Chong, former vice governors of Yunnan Province, were respectively the first president and vice president of the university.
With development of more than 60 years, YMU has grown into a multi-disciplinary university with multi-leveled and distinctive academic programs, covering 10 disciplines: philosophy, economics, law, education, literature, history, natural science, engineering, management and art, and having formed a pattern of discipline and program development by laying stress on both liberal arts and natural sciences, promoting the development of all disciplines and programs while focusing on the development of some prestigious and distinctive programs concerning ethnology, sociology, ethnic languages and literatures, languages and cultures of Southeast Asia and South Asia. We now offer 2 first-level discipline-based doctoral degree programs, 1 joint doctoral degree program, 12 first-level discipline-based master degree programs, 92 second-level discipline-based master degree programs, 8 professional master degree programs and 78 bachelor degree programs. And we have 14 key or characteristic disciplines at provincial level, 8 characteristic programs at national level, 17 key or characteristic programs at provincial level.
The university has over 23,000 full-time students, among which 2,400 are graduate students, 21,000 are undergraduates. More than 50% of undergraduates are from ethnic groups. YMU also has over 500 international students from more than 20 countries and regions, and nearly 10,000 adult students. The number of the university faculty and staff totals 1314, among which 184 are professors, 333 are associate professors. We have 2 national-level candidates of the New Century Initiative for Young and Middle-aged High-level Technical Personnel, 1 National Prominent Instructor for Political Theory, 1 National Outstanding Young Teacher, 13 Yunnan Provincial Teaching Masters, 9 Yunnan Provincial Young and Middle-aged Academic and Technological Leaders, 2 Yunnan Provincial Pioneers for Teaching and Research. The university also boasts a number of experts and scholars enjoying worldwide prestige, including Professor Ma Yao, an eminent ethnologist, historian and educator; Professor Wang Ningsheng, a famous ethnologist and archaeologist; Professor Xie Benshu, an outstanding historian; and Professor Zhang Jianguo, a distinguished scholar of Chinese modern and contemporary history.
YMU occupies a land area of more than 1,700 mu (about 113 hectares), with 650,000 square meters of floor area. It has 21 schools (divisions), 1 affiliated provincial-level research institute (Yunnan Provincial Institute for Ethnic Studies), 1 ethnic museum housing nearly 20,000 pieces of archives, and 3 prestigious and distinctive research institutes: Yunnan Center for Southeast Asian, South Asian and West Asian Studies, Yunnan Province Research Institute of Ethnic Cultures, and Yunnan Center for Tibetan Studies. The university has been recognized as “National Model Base for Research on Traditional Sports of Ethnic Minorities”, “Base for Grassroots Legal Personnel Education and Training in Western China”, one of the first hundred “ National Model Unit of Academic Programs of Inheritance and Innovation of Ethnic Cultures for Vocational Higher Institutions”, “Base for Training China-ASEAN Linguistic and Cultural Professionals”, “Base for Training Senior Accounting Personnel of Yunnan Province ”, “Base for Research on Religious and Social Problems of Cross-Border Ethnic Groups in Yunnan” and “Base for Research on Economic and Social Development of Yunnan Ethnic Groups with a Relatively Small Population.”The university also boasts some sci-tech innovation platforms at both national and provincial levels, including the Key Chemical Lab for Ethnic Medical Resources co-founded by the State Ethnic Affairs Commission and the Ministry of Education, Yunnan Research Center for Polylactide Function Material Engineering, Yunnan Provincial Key Lab for Application of Information Technology for Ethnic Cultural Resources in Higher Education Institutions, and so on.
YMU attaches great importance to scientific research, with advanced research in ethnology, sociology, history and other areas. The university has been granted many awards for teaching and research achievements at provincial and national levels. Some of the research achievements were reported to members of the Politburo Standing Committee. A considerable findings from ethnic theory research, including the “Direct Transition” theory, the “Peaceful Reform” theory, Five Book Series on Ethnic Issues, Ethnics Volume in China’s History Dictionary, the 3rd Volume in China’s Cultural History and so on, not only offer important bases for the Party and government’s stipulation of policies for addressing ethnic problems, but also make great contributions in enriching theories for ethnic issues. In recent years, the number of National Social Science Project has come to the front among colleges and universities in Yunnan Province, including “Study on Leapfrogging Development of Tibetan-Inhabited Areas of Yunnan”, “Research on the Experience and Countermeasures for Harmonious Existence of Diversified Religions in Border Areas in Yunnan”, “Study on World Culture Diversity and Harmonious World Construction” and “Policy Research on Myanmar’s Political Evolution and Defending China’s Southwest Boarder Safety and National Interests”. The university has hosted some important academic conferences, including “The 34th International Conference on Sino-Tibetan Languages”,“International Academic Conference on Development of Economic Globalization and Ethnic Cultural Diversity”, “Top Forum for China’s Social Development 2011”, “ Forum for Leading 50 Researchers on Religion 2013” etc. and co-hosted “The 16th World Congress of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences”. The Journal of Yunnan Minzu University is published in two editions: the philosophical and social sciences edition and the natural sciences edition. The philosophical and social sciences edition has been recognized as a national key Chinese journal, and a source journal of the Chinese Social Sciences Citation Index (CSSCI). The natural sciences edition has been cited as “a source journal for China’s Technological Papers”, and been included in “China’s key journals of technology”, ranking second in Yunnan Province among similar publications. The university also publishes irregularly the Ethnic Studies, a journal well-known in the circle of cultural anthropology both at home and aboard.
YMU pays close attention to international cooperation and exchanges. The university has received more than 20,000 visitors from over 80 countries or regions, including Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, Dr. Henry Alfred Kissinger, former Secretary of State of the United States of America, King Harold V of the Kingdom of Norway, and Chairman Ho Chi Minh of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. As one of the earliest institutions in Yunnan that recruit international students and teach Chinese as a foreign language, YMU began recruiting international students in 1981, graduate students in 1992, and has established cooperation and exchange relations with more than 70 universities or research institutions from over 10 countries including the United States of America, the Kingdom of Norway, Japan, and South Korea.
YMU clings to her vision of “Unity and Progress”, and motto of “ Pursuit of Truth and Cultivation of Morals”, with serving border areas and empowering ethnic groups as her responsibility. YMU has accumulatively supplied over 100,000 top talents to society, including most of the first-generation bachelors, masters, doctors, experts and scholars of the 25 indigenous ethnic groups in Yunnan, as well as the majority of ethnic-minority leaders in the 129 counties (especially in the 29 autonomous counties) of the 16 prefectures or cities throughout Yunnan Province. The university has grown into the cradle of high-level and top-quality professionals for ethnic regions all over the country, especially in Southwestern China, an important base for ethnic issues and studies as well as a window of Yunnan to the outside world. In 1999, 2005 and 2009, YMU was three times awarded the honor of “National Model Institution of Ethnic Unity and Progress” by the State Council.
Time waits for no man and a fruit in Autumn comes from a flower in Spring. The university will pay more attention to improving its quality and working system, explore and set up modern university system, and strive to establish bases for Minority Talents Cultivation, Ethnic Culture Inheritance and Research on Ethnic Theory and Policy. YMU will march forward to a high-level university for all ethnic groups with distinctive features and international fame by taking roots in Yunnan, and orienting to China as well as Southeast Asian and South Asian countries.