Editor's note: This article is the second of two UDaily articles by Deputy Provost Havidán Rodríguez chronicling UD’s delegations travel (March 27-April 4, 2010) to China in an effort to continue to enhance and strengthen the University’s strategic partnerships with institutions of higher education in this country. The previous article highlighted the delegation's trip to Beijing, including visits to Peking University, Tsinghua University and the Confucius Institute Central Headquarters (Hanban) in Beijing.
5:29 p.m., April 14, 2010----On its recent trip to China, the University of Delaware delegation visited Xiamen University in Xiamen and Southwestern University of Finance and Economics (SWUFE) in Chengdu. The UD delegation, led by Deputy Provost Havidán Rodríguez, included Michael Chajes, dean of Engineering; Nancy Targett, dean of Earth, Ocean and Environment; George Watson, dean of Arts & Sciences; Bintong Chen, professor in civil & environmental engineering and business administration; Jianguo Chen, director of the Chinese Program and a professor in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures; and Bahram Rajaee, director of Grants, Contracts, and International Partnerships in the Institute for Global Studies (IGS).
At Xiamen University
UD signed a General Agreement with Xiamen University (XMU) in 2008. A supplementary agreement was also signed in 2008 resulting in the establishment of the Joint Institute for Coastal Research and Management. Consequently, a significant number of initiatives have been developed and implemented between Xiamen University's School of Marine and Environmental Sciences and UD's College of Earth, Ocean and Environment (CEOE), under the leadership of Targett and Xiao-Hai Yan, the Mary A. S. Lighthipe Chair Professor and co-director of UD's Center for Remote Sensing in the CEOE, in partnership with Dean Minhan Dai from Xiamen University.
UD's relationship with Xiamen University is strong and continues to expand. Several trips in both directions have been made by high-ranking university officials, faculty and students. Also, in October 2009, Xiamen University conferred an honorary doctoral degree on UD's President Patrick Harker, the third degree of this type conferred by XMU.
Expanding on the UD-Xiamen relationship, Targett said, “I am very excited to be back in Xiamen and moving the relationship between our two universities to an even deeper level of engagement. I am especially pleased with the progress we have made in our Joint Institute for Coastal Research and Management, including many collaborative publications and student exchanges On this trip, Dean Dai, Prof. Yan and I are working to build on these successes and to expand the areas of impact for the institute." Yan, who was waiting for the UD delegation at Xiamen University, has played a key leadership role in building and sustaining the collaborative partnerships between the two institutions.
While at Xiamen University, the UD delegation met with administrators and faculty from a number of academic units, including the College of Oceanography and Environmental Science; the School of Life Science; the School of Humanities and Arts; and the School of Physics and Electrical & Mechanical Engineering. Xiamen's Vice President Goufeng Chen also hosted the UD delegation to an outstanding dinner with a number of colleagues from Xiamen University. The visit to Xiamen concluded with a very productive meeting with Tongwen Mao and Hongbo (Lisa) Yu, director and section chief for the Office of International Cooperation and Exchange, respectively, especially focusing on the development and inauguration of the Confucius Institute at UD. As mentioned in the accompanying article, last fall, UD submitted a proposal to establish a Confucius Institute in partnership with Xiamen University; it is anticipated that the partnership agreements between UD and the Confucius Institute Headquarters in Beijing and Xiamen University will be signed soon.
At Southwestern University of Finance and Economics (SWUFE)
In 2007, UD and SWUFE signed a General Agreement, focusing on faculty and student exchange and research collaborations. Harker has visited SWUFE on a couple of occasions in recent years; SWUFE delegations have also visited UD, in January 2008 and again in November 2009. In support of this growing partnership, SWUFE's President Dewu Zhao established a “UD Center” on the campus that is open to be used by UD faculty and students. Harker also serves on SWUFE's advisory board. Faculty and administrators at UD and SWUFE have had an extensive number of discussions on expanding and strengthening the partnerships between both institutions.
The UD delegation had an opportunity to discuss collaborative projects and initiatives with SWUFE's president and Vice President Rengzong Ding, among other administrators and faculty. SWUFE is planning to send several undergraduate students to UD's Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics during the fall of 2010; faculty exchanges are being explored, and a study abroad program to Chengdu is also being considered. Another visit to SWUFE is now being planned by Profs. Tom Ilvento and Titus O. Awokuse, from UD's Department of Food and Resource Economics.
According to Bintong Chen, “During the past two years, the UD-SWUFE collaborations have become more substantial and concrete; an MOU at the university level has led to collaborative projects, thanks to the contributions of so many faculty and staff from both institutions. I hope that the UD Center at SWUFE will serve as a bridge that will allow us to expand and strengthen our partnership, especially focusing on joint degree programs, research initiatives and graduate student supervision, as well as professional training.”
Rodríguez, Chajes and Bintong Chen met with Vice President and Prof. Huimin Bian to discuss joint research initiatives focusing on the social science aspects of disasters. After the devastating Sichuan earthquake (2008), a number of SWUFE faculty have developed several research initiatives focusing on this event. Faculty from both institutions discussed research initiatives focusing on disasters. Rodríguez also provided a short overview of the Disaster Research Center (DRC), the oldest and one of the leading social science research centers in the world.
Chajes also provided an overview of the ongoing research, closely linked with disasters, in the College of Engineering. Bian reiterated her interest in building strong research collaborations in the disaster research field between SWUFE and DRC.
Rajaee indicated that developing international strategic partnerships are a key part of UD's globalization strategy. “By establishing collaborative arrangements with universities overseas, we can expand the scope of academic and research opportunities available to UD faculty and students,” he said, adding that “members of the UD community can take advantage of short-or long-term exchanges with a partner institution; establish research collaborations that cross national borders and thus enriches teaching and learning in both locations and can also lead to the creation of new and innovative study abroad programs.”
Article by Havidán Rodríguez