U-M celebrates official name in Chinese


The University of Michigan has a new, official Chinese name: 密西根大学.

It was unveiled by S. Jack Hu, vice president for research, during the Pan Asia alumni reunion in Shanghai on May 28. 

“The Chinese culture places great importance on a name and its meanings, so does the university,” Hu said. “There were three Chinese translations of U-M. It is important for us to speak in one consistent voice.”

“密西根大学 is the name in Chinese that stays true to the original English and best captures our identity,” he said. “These Chinese characters reflect our Midwest roots and resonate with ‘The Champions of the West,’ a lyric from Michigan’s fight song, ‘The Victors.'”

U-M is looking forward to further global engagement with the Greater China and the Chinese-speaking regions and communities around the world, said Hu.

U-M has a long history of engagement with China. Judson Dwight Collins, a member of the first class to graduate from the university, went to China as a missionary 170 years ago. The close, enduring ties between U-M and China have been directly attributed to James B. Angell, who in 1880 took a one-year leave as the university’s president to serve as the U.S. minister to China. Angell later played a vital role in establishing scholarship programs for Chinese students to study in the United States. 

A major milestone in U-M’s relationship with modern China was when the university hosted the Chinese table tennis team “Ping Pong Diplomacy” trip to the United States in 1972 that later helped pave the way for normalization of relations between the two nations.

U-M has successful partnerships with China, including University of Michigan-Shanghai Jiao Tong University Joint Institute; University of Michigan-Peking University Health Science Center Joint Institute for Translational and Clinical Research; Tsinghua-Michigan Society of Fellows; University of Michigan-Tianjin University Joint Research Institute in Nantong; joint research program with the Beijing Institute of Collaborative Innovation; joint research program with DiDi Chuxing, China’s largest ride-sharing company; and University of Michigan-Sokon Research Center with Sokon Industry Group, an automaker and supplier in Chongqing.



  1. John Lockard
    on June 2, 2017 at 11:34 am

    I feel like the article nodded toward, but missed, something very important; what is the meaning behind these characters?

    I can go to a Translation site and see that “密西根大学” translates to “University of Michigan” and the pronunciation is “Mì xīgēn dàxué”. But, the article talks about these characters resonating with the lyrics ‘The Champions of the West’, and knowing that characters have meanings it would be nice to know the meaning of each symbol or how the symbols together give a deeper meaning.

    A quick translate on the individual characters give me:
    密 = Dense
    西 = Western
    根 = Root
    大学 = Big + Learn (University)

    But I’m not certain of the accuracy.

  2. Matt McLean
    on July 7, 2017 at 3:52 pm

    I agree with John’s comments, and would also add that the article missed an opportunity to further explain what the “…three Chinese translations of U-M.” are, and how this was the best choice.

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