UDaily Article: Honoring partnership in China UD administrators travel to China for Xiamen University’s 95th anniversary
9:26 a.m., April 26, 2016–Xiamen University’s campus bloomed with excitement earlier this month as the Chinese institution began two weeks of celebration in honor of its 95th anniversary.
In attendance were the University of Delaware’s Lynn Okagaki, deputy provost for academic affairs; Charlie Riordan, deputy provost for research and scholarship; George Watson, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; and Jianguo Chen, director of the Confucius Institute. They were invited by Xiamen President Zhu Chongshi as honored guests of the university’s official ceremonies.
On Tuesday, April 5, the UD delegation was invited to participate in a President’s Forum. During the event, attended by approximately 75 international dignitaries, Riordan presented on the role of UD’sConfucius Institute in providing a platform for promoting and facilitating partnership between the University and prominent Chinese institutions like Xiamen University (XMU).
“Presidents and administrators from 16 universities in different regions and parts of the world got a chance to share their views,” said Chen. “Otherwise, I cannot think of any occasion in which we would all meet each other. It was an exciting moment.”
This first day ended with an official welcome dinner, presentations by Watson, and a specially-organized concert featuring orchestras from XMU and Germany’s University of Trier.
On Wednesday, April 6, the festivities continued as XMU hosted its official 95th anniversary ceremony. With more than 8,000 guests in the crowd, Okagaki was seated on the grand stage, among others, to represent UD as a distinguished and committed partner.
“It was an honor to be a part of Xiamen University’s 95th anniversary ceremony. Strong global partnerships, like the one we have with Xiamen University, not only expand our reach but enable us to bring the world to Delaware,” said Okagaki.
The delegation also had the opportunity to meet with XMU’s president, Zhu Chongshi, before touring the main campus in the Siming District, as well as a satellite campus in Xiang’an.
UD has a long tradition of partnership with Xiamen, beginning in 2007 when the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment forged a relationship aimed at enhancing research collaboration in the field of marine science and policy. In 2010, UD and XMU partnered to establish the UD Confucius Institute.
“The partnership between the University of Delaware and Xiamen University remains one of the strongest we have had with overseas institutions of higher education,” noted Zhu.
The UD Confucius Institute is dedicated to outreach and scholarship on Chinese culture and language. Zhu remarked that the institute “has not only helped American students understand Chinese culture, but has provided valuable opportunities for Xiamen faculty and staff to learn about American culture as well.”
In just five short years, eight partnerships, agreements, and joint programs have stemmed from the Confucius Institute’s presence on campus.
“My university and I look forward to more opportunities to further collaborate with the University of Delaware under the new leadership of President Dennis Assanis,” said Chongshi, “and advance our partnership to a whole new level.”
The delegation’s visit went beyond celebratory in nature, as each took the opportunity to discuss potential for new collaborations and solidified existing programs at both XMU and other partner institutions across Asia. On Monday, April 5, they met with deans and deputy deans of XMU’s College of Humanities, College of Public Affairs, and College of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering.
Members of the delegation traveled to East China Normal University (ECNU), another of the University’s strongest Chinese partners. During their short time at ECNU, Watson and Chen discussed collaborative initiatives regarding faculty exchanges between their College of Communication and UD’s Center for Political Communication, made plans for American undergraduate students to attend this year’s U.S.-China Student Forum at ENCU, and brainstormed new ideas for culturally-focused student summer camps.
“Each time I visit China with my UD colleagues, we have important opportunities to advance our relationships with critical partners in higher education there,” said Watson. “The number and quality of our partnerships grow with each visit, important for both Chinese student and faculty exchanges at UD, and reciprocal exchanges within China.”
At Peking University, China’s premier institution of higher education, Watson and Chen discussed plans to continue and expand a joint annual Distinguished Scholar Lecture Series, as well as the future potential for a Center for Chinese Studies.
Riordan made a short stop in South Korea to discuss research collaborations with colleagues at Yeungnam University and Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology before arriving back at UD, and Okagaki traveled back via Hong Kong.
“Expanding research relationships around the world is important to developing solutions to grand challenges facing society, to ensure economic competitiveness for the U.S. economy and, most importantly, affording UD students the opportunities and skills to be productive global citizens,” said Riordan.
Article by Nikki Laws
Photos by Jianguo Chen