UD delegation travels to China
The UD delegation meets with UD students in Beijing who are participating in the prestigious and highly competitive Chinese Embassy Scholarship program.
UD delegation at the main entrance of Peking University
Deputy Provost Rodríguez and Vice Provost Xiaoming Li at Peking University discuss ongoing and future academic and research collaborations.
UD delegation at Peking University

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12:07 p.m., April 12, 2010----In an effort to continue to enhance and strengthen the University of Delaware's strategic partnerships in China, a delegation composed of UD administrators and faculty recently visited several institutions of higher education in this country, including Peking University, Tsinghua University, Xiamen University, Southwestern University of Finance and Economics (SWUFE) and the Confucius Institute Central Headquarters (Hanban) in Beijing.

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The delegation, led by Deputy Provost Havidán Rodríguez, included Michael Chajes, dean of the College of Engineering; Nancy Targett, dean of the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment; George Watson, dean of the College Arts and Sciences; Bintong Chen, professor of civil and environmental engineering and business administration; Jianguo Chen, director of the Chinese Program and a faculty member in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures; and Bahram Rajaee, director of grants, contracts and international partnerships at the Institute for Global Studies (IGS).

As part of this March 27-April 4 trip, the UD delegation visited Beijing, Xiamen and Chengdu.

This is the first of two articles chronicling UD's partnerships and the delegation's experiences and achievements during their visits to these institutions, starting in Beijing. (The second article chronicles the visits to Xiamen University and Southwestern University of Finance and Economics in Chengdu.)

Visit to Beijing

While in Beijing, the UD delegation visited Peking University (PKU), also known as China's Harvard, and Tsinghua University, known as China's MIT. Peking and Tsinghua -- recognized as the two best institutions of higher education in China -- also enjoy a strong international reputation for excellent academic and research programs. UD is developing strong academic and research partnerships with both institutions in a number of areas.

At PKU, the UD delegation met with Dr. Xiaoming Li, vice provost for academic affairs; Dean Shiyi Chen (who spent a year as a visiting scholar at UD's Bartol Institute) and several faculty members in the College of Engineering; with faculty from the College of Chemistry and Molecular Engineering and the College of Earth and Space Sciences; as well as with staff from the Office of International Relations. Also, the UD delegation had extensive conversations with Dr. Pingqiu An, chief director for the Centre for Ancient Chinese Classics and Archives and executive director for the Center for Classical Chinese Literary Studies, and over a dozen faculty members affiliated with both centers. In August 2009, in a visit coordinated by Prof. Jianguo Chen, a delegation led by Dr. An visited UD and met with a number of administrators and faculty in order to establish academic and research collaborations between UD and Dr. An's centers, which have a very strong national and international reputation. Discussions, both at UD and PKU, focused on developing strategic partnerships, with special emphasis on faculty exchanges, joint annual lecture series and research collaborations.

“The College of Arts and Sciences is delighted to be entering into an agreement with the National Center for Classical Chinese Literary Studies focusing on faculty lectures, exchanges, and collaborations in Chinese language, literature, and culture,” Watson said. “We look forward to close and productive interactions with Prof. An and his colleagues as we advance our joint interests in promoting Chinese language and literature for the benefit of our students and professors.”

Chajes and Prof. Bintong Chen also had an opportunity to meet with colleagues in the College of Engineering at Tsinghua University, where UD's College of Engineering has developed significant relationships. Chajes indicated that “the visit was focused on expanding interactions with Tsinghua, one of the premier engineering schools in China. Prof. Chen has ongoing collaborations with faculty at Tsinghua, and is working on a graduate student exchange program.”

Chajes added that the college has additional ongoing interactions with faculty at Tsinghua and UD's Department of Materials Science and Engineering through a joint project in the area of carbon nanotubes, under the leadership of Prof. Bingqing Wei of mechanical engineering, who was an associate professor at Tsinghua from 1994 to 2001. The Department of Mechanical Engineering is also looking at establishing a summer research program with Tsinghua. Further, UD has developed significant collaborative initiatives with faculty at Tsinghua through UD's Department of Art History, and the Center for Historic Architecture and Design in the College of Education and Public Policy.

While in Beijing, Rodríguez and Prof. Jianguo Chen also visited the Central Headquarters of the Confucius Institutes (Hanban). Under the leadership of Rodríguez and Chen, UD finalized and submitted to Hanban a proposal to establish a Confucius Institute, in partnership with Xiamen University, on the Newark campus. In the fall of 2009, the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C., conducted a one-day site visit to UD, which resulted in a positive recommendation to Hanban to establish this institute at UD. The Office of the Deputy Provost is now in the process of finalizing the Confucius Institute agreement with Hanban and Xiamen University.

The goals of the Confucius Institute include to enhance the understanding of Chinese language and culture; strengthen educational and cultural exchange and cooperation; expand and enhance relationships and collaborations between China and other countries around the world; and to promote a world of multiculturalism. Currently, there are about 282 Confucius Institutes (CI) and 272 Confucius Classrooms (CC) in 88 countries and regions around the world, including 66 CIs and 188 CCs in 36 states in the U.S. The meetings with senior officials at Hanban were very productive and significant progress was made toward the establishment of the Confucius Institute at UD.

The UD delegation also had a unique opportunity to meet with five UD students who have been participating in an internship program in China for the past seven months. According to Prof. Jianguo Chen, “currently, 10 UD students are studying in China on the prestigious Chinese Embassy Scholarship, a highly competitive program that provides one year of full tuition, room and board, medical care and a monthly stipend.”

Since 2007, UD's Chinese Program has successfully competed with other major research universities in the area, including Georgetown, George Washington University, the University of Maryland and the University of Virginia. Under these scholarships, UD students are studying at Beijing Language and Culture University, Nanjing University and Beijing Normal University.

“I am very proud of our students who have distinguished themselves in Chinese studies during their scholarship program. They have brought honor and a strong reputation to the University of Delaware,” Chen said.

Article by Havidán Rodríguez

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