Cai Yuanpei (1868-1940), courtesy names Heqing, Zhongshen, Minyou, and Jiemin, infant name A'pei, pseudonyms Cai Zhen and Zhou Ziyu, was a native of Shanyin County in Shaoxing, Zhejiang. He was a revolutionist, educator, statesman, and pioneer in the study of Modern Chinese Ethnology. He was also the first Minister of Education in the provisional Republic of China. From 1916 to 1927, Cai served as the president of Peking University and made pioneering reforms by advocating “academics” and “freedom”. From 1920 to 1930, he served as the president of China-French University. During the Northern Expedition, he took charge of the Educational Administration Committee and prepared for the establishments of the University of the Republic of China and the Academia Sinica after Nanjing had been taken as the capital of the national government. He took the initiative in leading educational system and academic system reforms. From 1928 to 1940, he became the full-time president of the Academia Sinica and implemented his proposals for academic research.
Cai Yuanpei was good-natured and compassionate, who had a deep insight into the old Chinese society and its undesirable customs. During his two study tours in Europe, he closely experienced the scientific spirit of Post-renaissance and the ideologies after the French Revolution. He argued for civil rights, woman rights and free thoughts. He aslo committed himself to scientific research while trying to eliminate the old custom of “reading for powers and positions”. Meanwhile, he laid much emphasis on the civic education of virtues along with the education of people's world outlook, life outlook and aesthetic knowledge.