The predecessor of the university was the Sixth Normal School of Zhili (the former name of Hebei Province) founded in 1923. Since then, it has undergone the development stages of the South-Hebei Cadres College (1948), Hebei Ji County Normal School reconstructed in 1949, Hengshui Normal School moved to Hengshui and renamed in1960 , and Hengshui Normal College(1978). In October 1998, approved by the People's Government of Hebei Province, a new Hengshui Normal College was founded with the merger of Hengshui Normal College and Hengshui College of Education. Based on this, it was upgraded to Hengshui University with the approval of Ministry of Education on May 17, 2004.
The school motto of “keeping fine traditions whilst blazing new trails” originates from Tao Te Ching, aiming at keeping the correct path and gaining victory through innovation.
“Keeping fine traditions” mainly contains four aspects: keeping the fine tradition of morality to inherit excellent moral concepts and norms and form good moral consciousness; keeping the fine tradition of learning to fully inherit the academic achievements of predecessors and develop rigorous academic atmosphere for both teachers and students to make progress; keeping the fine tradition of conducting oneself in society to persist in being upright, honest and moderate, strict and self-disciplined and develop team spirit; keeping the fine tradition of doing things to practise diligently and work solidly.
The essence of “blazing new trails” is innovation. It encourages teachers and students to have their own original ideas while elaborating the established theories, be courageous to challenge authority and be adept at exploring new knowledge. It also encourages them to adopt a correct attitude towards failure, respect the development of personality, and gradually establish the knowledge system and the skill system that surpass the predecessors. It emphasizes pursuit of innovation in inheritance, and reflection of novelty in plainness.