Wei was born on December 7, 1888, in the village of Zhongshan, Guangdong Province, the same village where Sun Yat-sen was born. The son of a businessman, he received his education from a secondary school run by the Protestant Episcopal Church of USA in Wuchang (part of Wuhan), Hubei Province since 1903. In 1907, he entered into “Boone College,” which was founded and supported by the American Episcopal mission in Wuchang, and gained his Bachelor of Arts in 1911. In the same year he was baptized into the Protestant Episcopal Church, USA. in Hankou (also part of Wuhan), taking the name Francis. He continued to study in Boone University until he completed his Master of Arts in 1915. Then he was sent to study at Harvard, USA. (M.A., 1919) and at the University of London, England (Ph.D., 1929).
While he was at Harvard, Wei was asked to return to China in 1925 to take up the post of Vice-president at Huazhong (Central China) University which was established cooperatively in Wuchang by five missionary societies from North America and Great Britain. He served as the Acting President in the following year while Bishop Alfred Gilman, the President, was on leave. He became the first Chinese President of Huazhong University when he completed his Doctoral Studies in England in 1929, and served there for 22 years.
Wei was a delegate to the National Christian Conference held in Shanghai in 1922. He taught at Yale Divinity School in 1937 and 1938. In 1945 he was the first Henry W. Luce visiting scholar at Union Theological Seminary, New York, and he was invited to Britain to preach at Westminster Abbey and Saint Paul’s Cathedral. He enjoyed great prestige not only in the Protestant Church of China but in the educational circles because of his research in philosophy, theology, and Eastern culture. He was a prolific writer both in Chinese and English, including The Political Principles of Mencius (1916), The Spirit of Chinese Culture (1947), Ten Talks on the Apostles’ Creed (1955, in Chinese), and Basic Elements of the Christian Faith (1965, in Chinese).
Wei remained as President of Huazhong University until 1951, when the Communist government took it over and renamed it Huazhong Normal University. He taught there for the rest of his life. He died in Wuhan in 1976.
- John L. Coe, Huachung University. New York: United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia, 1962.
- Jessie Lutz, China and the Christian Colleges, 1850-1950. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1971.
- Peter Tze Ming Ng, “Wei Zhuomin: Bridging National Culture and World Values,” Carol Lee Hamrin, ed. with Stacey Bieler, Salt and Light: Lives of Faith that Shaped Modern China(Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock Publishers, Pickwick Publications, 2008)
- Other material is held in the archives of Huachung (College) University, record group 11, nos. 163-171, at Yale Divinity School Library.