Located in the well-endowed historic and cultural city of Nanjing, Nanjing Agricultural University (NAU) is a national key institution of higher learning, directly affiliated to the Chinese Ministry of Education. Famously known for its established disciplines in agriculture and life sciences, NAU also offers balanced, comprehensive programs in diverse branches of learning, including sciences, economics, management, engineering, humanities and law. NAU is a university covered by the 211 Program and has been selected as one of the Innovation Platforms for Outstanding Disciplines listed under the National 985 Excellence Initiative Project as well as one of the institutions of higher education chosen to develop world-class disciplines under China’s Double First-class University Project. NAU’s Party Secretary is Prof. Chen Ligen; President, Prof. Chen Fadi.
The history of NAU can be traced back to its predecessors – the Sanjiang Normal School, a teacher training center in Nanjing founded in 1902, and the Faculty of Agriculture of Private University of Nanking, which was founded in 1914. In 1952, Nanjing Agricultural College was founded through the merger of the two agricultural faculties of University of Nanking (today’s Nanjing University) and National Central University along with several departments of the Agricultural College of Zhejiang University. In 1963, the college was recognized as one of the two key institutions of higher agricultural education in China. In 1972, it was relocated to Yangzhou, where it was merged with the Agricultural College of Northern Jiangsu to form the Agricultural College of Jiangsu. In 1979, it was relocated back to Nanjing under its previous name. In 1984, the college was renamed Nanjing Agricultural University. In 2000, NAU was transferred from the Ministry of Agriculture to the Ministry of Education.
NAU consists of 18 colleges plus one department, including College of Agriculture, College of Engineering, College of Plant Protection, College of Resources & Environmental Sciences, College of Horticulture, College of Animal Science and Technology (including Wuxi Fisheries College), College of Veterinary Medicine, College of Food Science and Technology, School of Economics and Management, College of Public Administration, College of Humanities & Social Sciences, College of Life Sciences, College of Science, College of Information Science and Technology, College of Foreign Studies, College of Finance, College of Prataculture, College of General Education on Political Science, and Department of Physical Education.
NAU offers undergraduate programs in 62 specialties, first-level master’s programs in 31 disciplines, professional degree programs in 15 specialties and doctoral programs in 17 first-level disciplines, as well as 15 postdoctoral programs. The university has more than 2,700 faculty and staff members and over 25,500 full-time students, including more than 17,000 undergraduates and over 8,500 postgraduates. Among the faculty and staff are 2 academicians of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, 27 people who either have been recruited through China’s Recruitment Program of Global Experts, or have been honored with “Changjiang (Yangtze River) Scholar” or “National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars.” Eight faculty members have been nationally and provincially recognized for their exceptional teaching accomplishments and five have received honors such as “National Outstanding Teacher”, “National Model Teacher” and “Model Educational Worker.” More than 100 people have been included in other national talent projects or programs. Besides, NAU is also home to 6 national/provincial-level teaching teams and 3 teams listed as part of the Innovation Team Development Program under the Ministry of Education.
The university currently offers education programs of various levels ranging from undergraduate to postgraduate in addition to programs for international students and leadership development. NAU has been chosen as the host of a national center for culture-oriented education for college students, a national training center for research and teaching talent in basic sciences, a national training center for life science and technology talent, and a national experiment and teaching center for virtual simulation of plant production, animal science and agricultural biology. The university was among the first group of universities in China that were recognized as an outstanding provider of undergraduate education. In 2000, the university was approved by the Ministry of Education to build the NAU Graduate School and in 2014, it was listed among the first pilot universities under China’s Excellent Agricultural and Forestry Talent Education and Training Program.
NAU hosts four national first-level key disciplines (including Crop Science, Agricultural Resources and Environmental Science, Plant Protection and Veterinary Medicine), three national second-level key disciplines (including Olericulture, Agricultural Economics and Management and Land Resources & Management), and one discipline prioritized by the state for development (Food Science). In the fourth round of China’s national assessment of disciplines, four of NAU’s first-level disciplines, including Crop Science, Agricultural Resources and Environmental Science, Plant Protection and Agricultural and Forestry Economics & Management, were rated “A+”, while another three first-level disciplines—Public Administration, Food Science and Engineering, and Horticulture—were rated “A”. Eight disciplines are included in Jiangsu Province’s Advantageous Discipline Development Program. Seven disciplines—Agricultural Science, Botany and Zoology, Environmental Science and Ecology, Biology and Biochemistry, Engineering, Microbiology, and Molecular Biology and Genetics— are among the world’s 1% according to Essential Science Indicators (ESI) rankings. In particular, Agricultural Science and Botany and Zoology are among the world’s top 0.1%, placing NAU at the global forefront in these fields.
The university is now home to 66 provincial-, ministerial- and national-level research platforms, including the State Key Laboratory of Crop Genetics & Germplasm Enhancement, the National Center of Meat Quality and Safety Control, the National Engineering and Technology Center for IT-based Agriculture, the National Center for Soybean Improvement, the National Engineering Research Center for Organic-based Fertilizers, the National-Local Joint Engineering Research Center for Rural Land Utilization and Remediation and the National-Local Joint Engineering Research Center for Green Pesticide Invention and Application. During the Five-Year Plan period (2011-15), NAU’s spending on research exceeded RMB 2.6 billion and the university won over 100 provincial-, ministerial- and national-level scientific and technological awards, including 8 national science and technology awards recognizing NAU as a lead organization. Backed by its strong research capabilities, NAU has been active in contributing back to society and addressing challenges facing China’s rural communities, agriculture and farmers. Thanks to the tremendous economic and social benefits it has created, NAU has repeatedly been honored a national model in contributing to the national strategy of revitalizing agriculture through science and education.
NAU has been increasingly active in international exchange and cooperation. Currently, NAU maintains partnerships with over 150 universities and research institutes in over 30 countries or territories through joint education programs, academic exchanges and collaborative research programs. For example, NAU has launched dozens of joint education programs (including exchange of visits, dual undergraduate degree programs and dual undergraduate/graduate degree programs) in collaboration with world-renowned universities like UC Davis (USA), Reading University (UK), the University of Western Australia (Australia) and Massey University (New Zealand). Besides, NAU has established a number of international collaborative research platforms on its campus, including the Sino-US Joint Research Center for Food Safety and Quality, the NAU-Cornell International Technology Transfer Center and International Reference Laboratory for Swine Streptococcus Disease Diagnosis. In 2007, NAU was added to the List of Chinese Institutions of Higher Education Enrolling International Students under the Chinese Government Scholarship Program. In 2008, NAU was designated by the Ministry of Education as an Educational Aid Center for Africa and Asia. In 2012, NAU was approved to help set up the world’s first Confucius Institute specialized in agriculture at Egerton University in Kenya. In the same year, NAU created the World Agriculture Prize, which has been awarded in the past five years to scholars from Cornell University (USA), University of Bonn (Germany), UC Davis (USA), University of Alberta (Canada) and Ghent University (Belgium). In 2014, NAU entered into an agreement with UC Davis to jointly set up the NAU-UCDavis One Health Center. In the same year, NAU was approved by the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology to build the Kenya-China Joint Laboratory for Crop Molecular Biology, and by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education to establish the China-ASEAN Education and Training Center.
NAU has three well-equipped and picturesque campuses, which cover a combined area of 9 sq km, with a gross built area of 740,000 square meters. NAU’s libraries hold approximately 2.35 million volumes of books, over 5 million Chinese e-books, and more than 10,000 international periodicals.
Over the course of its century-long history, NAU has always been committed its motto of “Integrity, Simplicity, Diligence and Benevolence” and its values of “Putting Students First, Upholding Moral Standards, Promoting Scholarship and Contributing to the Community”. With these values in mind, the university has produced more than 200,000 exceptional graduates, 54 of whom have become academicians.
Looking into the future, NAU as a pioneer in higher agricultural education in modern and contemporary China will be focused on the goal of transforming itself into one of the best agricultural universities in the world—by placing talent as the foundation, strengthening disciplines as the priority, improving the quality of education as the lifeline, developing innovative technologies as the driving force, contributing back to society as the duty, and preserving culture as the mission.