The original Soochow University was founded by Methodists in Suzhou (then spelled as 'Soochow') in 1900 as a merger of three existing institutions: the Po-hsi Academy, the Kung-hsiang Academy, and the Chung-hsi Academy.
The university was split in 1949 as a result of the Chinese Civil War. The Soochow University on the mainland merged with the Southern Jiangsu College of Culture and Education and the Department of Mathematics and Physics at Jiangnan University to form the Jiangsu Teacher's College in 1952. The English name Soochow University was revived on the mainland in 1982 when the Jiangsu Teacher's College merged with the Suzhou College of Sericulture, the Suzhou Institute of Silk Textile Technology, and the Suzhou Medical College. However, the original Chinese name Dongwu 東吳 was not adopted and the new institution was given the name Suzhou 苏州.
After fleeing to Taiwan in 1949, members of the Soochow Alumni Association reestablished the Soochow University, starting with its College of Law in 1951 and becoming a full-fledged university with five schools in 1971. The university in Taiwan, claiming historical continuity with the university on the mainland (pre-1949), thus uses the Dongwu name.
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