Trip to Promote UC's China Strategy Pays Off in First Comprehensive Agreement With Chinese University 

The emergence of a new, comprehensive agreement between UC and Shandong University headlines the list of results achieved last month, when a high-level team of UC officials spent two weeks visiting 14 universities across China.

The UC delegation headed to China with a goal of initiating implementation of UC’s new comprehensive engagement strategy for China, a process that was inaugurated in November 2005 with a visit to China by UC President Nancy L. Zimpher. Significant conversations took place on the April trip with a number of institutions about partnering to create a permanent, substantial presence in China for UC, with the agreement with Shandong to establish a joint urban research center with UC and an ongoing presence on each other’s campus the first announced result.

"We had two aims, both of which have been achieved," said UC Vice Provost International Mitch Leventhal, who led the trip. "First, we wanted to identify – for each institution – a number of areas for additional collaboration which would provide fruitful opportunities for both students and faculty. Second, we wanted to identify one institution with which we could establish a relationship of comprehensive engagement – and this we are initiating with Shandong University."

"It was a very productive trip," said delegation member Lou Bilionis, the dean of the UC College of Law. "We went with a sense of purpose – to identify and develop a strong university-wide relationship with a school in China. The leaders of the universities we visited recognized that UC is proposing a new, more powerful kind of partnership."

The 10-person delegation included three deans, three associate deans, one assistant dean and two professors, representing a total of eight colleges. (See below for a complete list of participants). Working over 10 business days, and occasionally breaking into teams, the April delegation visited 14 universities – most of which UC has some prior relationship with.

Said Leventhal, "Like many universities, UC has a long history of international relationships, but most of these have been ad hoc, with little consideration given to building broad strategic relationships which can advance both UC and its partners." He continued, "The time has come for us to take a more strategic and sophisticated view; we have identified institutions which have articulated similar missions, and which have both coincident and complementary strengths."

"Our senior academic leadership was able to see firsthand the tremendous transformations that are taking place in China today," said Karen Gould, dean of the McMicken College of Arts & Sciences and another member of the UC group. "The interest of those we met with was high, particularly with respect to academic planning, academic investment and interest in significantly expanding international linkages with American universities."

Following Zimpher’s visit in November, which laid the groundwork for subsequent discussions, Leventhal has twice visited China in the interim, establishing the basis for further engagement.

Shandong University is a top-tier comprehensive institution located in the city of Jinan, approximately halfway between Shanghai and Beijing. UC presented Shandong University with the concept of comprehensive engagement – that is, identifying specific activities to commit to across as many colleges and disciplines as possible. The two universities identified a common commitment to urban research. They will therefore establish a joint center for urban research under which to pursue collaborative research and funded projects.

Both UC and Shandong are located in major urban centers which grapple with many issues common to urban areas. Additionally, the tremendous pace of economic development in China is making urbanism an issue of rapidly growing importance. UC has much to offer as a partner in these areas, with prominent programs in fields such as engineering, construction management, environmental health and urban and regional planning.

The two institutions have also pledged to ensure a regular flow of faculty through each other’s institutions.

"From the point of view of McMicken College, this is a unique opportunity to develop targeted and deep relationships with one and perhaps several premier Chinese universities," said Gould. "In particular, some of the enhancement opportunities that are likely to benefit our college include opportunities for postdoctoral exchange – especially in the sciences and mathematics – undergraduate and graduate student exchange and enrollment increases with highly qualified Chinese students. Another area is the opportunity for our own students from UC to have specially designed Chinese language immersion and civilization courses in the summer at these institutions."

In order to involve faculty members in the new initiative, UC International has recently made a call to faculty for research projects to be undertaken in China. A large number of faculty members have responded to this call. Selected scholars will be matched with partner institutions and counterpart researchers.

"This year, we have also substantially boosted grants for UC students willing to undertake intensive Chinese language study in China. This is further evidence of our commitment to a long-term repositioning of China closer to the center of our institutional mission," said Leventhal. "Expect to see additional exciting initiatives in the coming months."

The members of UC’s delegation on the China trip included:

  • Paul Bishop, associate dean of the College of Engineering
  • Lou Bilionis, dean of the College of Law
  • Karen Gould, dean of the McMicken College of Arts & Sciences
  • Laura Hildreth, assistant dean for the College of Medicine
  • Mitch Leventhal, UC’s Vice Provost International
  • Will McIntosh, dean of the College of Business
  • Karen Monzel, associate dean of the College of Design, Art, Architecture, and Planning
  • Ben Uwakweh, department head for Construction Science, College of Applied Sciences
  • Nelson Vincent, associate dean of the College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services
  • Xinhao Wang, professor of Planning, College of Design, Art, Architecture, and Planning

Institutions visited on this trip included:

  • Beijing Jiaotong University
  • Capital University of Medical Sciences 
  • Chang’an University
  • Fourth Military Medical University
  • Fudan University
  • Guangdong University of Foreign Studies
  • Hong Kong Polytechnic University
  • Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
  • Shandong University
  • Sun Yat-sen University
  • Tsinghua University
  • University of Hong Kong
  • Xi’an International Studies University
  • Xian Jiaotong University