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ASU delegates strengthen China partnership

July 26, 2007

ASU President Michael Crow recently led a delegation of ASU faculty and staff to China to deepen and solidify ASU’s sister-institution relationship with Sichuan University, officially launch the Confucius Institute, and expand relationships with the Ministries of Education and Science and Technology to support ongoing ASU research, teaching and learning programs in China.

Another goal of the 11-day trip was to expand ASU’s support network of donors based in Asia, in addition to building linkages with ASU’s expanding China-based alumni network.

A highlight of the trip was joining about 10,000 guests at the centennial celebration of Tongji University, located in bustling port city of Shanghai.

Also at Tongji University – which was established as Tongji German Medical School in 1907 – the ASU delegation attended the International Forum on Urban Development. The forum also was sponsored by the United Nations, the Chinese Ministry of Construction and the Shanghai municipal government, and its theme was globalization and urban development.

Events at Tongji University included a meeting that featured Crow, in addition to Anthony “Bud” Rock, ASU’s vice president for global engagement, Buck Pei, associate dean of the W. P. Carey School of Business, Jennie Si, professor of electrical engineering and director of China research initiatives, Mariko Silver, director of strategic projects in the Office of the President, and Tongji President Wan Gang to discuss expanding ASU’s existing collaboration with Tongji in the areas of urban sustainability and biofuels.

ASU also has a visiting scholar program with Tongji University. Last year, ASU played host to Tongji professor Susan Song, and Bruce Rittman, director of the Center for Environmental Biotechnology in the Biodesign Institute, has visited Tongji for the past three years.
Silver, who also is an adviser to Crow, met with Li Mei, dean of Tongji’s Foreign Language School, to discuss options for the future.
As part of its centennial celebration, Tongji University played host to an international university president forum, where Crow and Wan were the headliners. Crow spoke on “University Design for the 21st Century, the Case of Sustainability,” describing ASU’s new School of Sustainability and illustrating why it is important to “consider the interconnectedness of environmental, academic and social systems.”
University presidents from Europe, Japan, Mainland China and Hong Kong also made presentations. A streaming video of Crow’s remarks is available at the Web site

Also in Shanghai, plans were discussed for a possible ASU presence at World Expo 2010 Shanghai, which will take place from May 1 to Oct. 31, 2010.

Crow suggested that ASU could build a “green energy experience” for expo visitors, and the university could use the Decision Theater to illustrate the challenges of a sustainable city.

Zhong Yanqun, deputy director for the World Expo 2010 Shanghai, is an ASU EMBA alumna.

Another highlight of the trip was the official launch of the Confucius Institute during a festive launch at Sichuan University, ASU’s sister university in China.

The institute at ASU will focus on collaborating on K-12 pedagogy for teaching Chinese language and culture, and linking K-12 schools with cultural resources in the community, such as museums, cultural centers and community groups.

“The presence of the Confucius Institute on campus will enhance and promote the teaching of Chinese language and culture to Arizona schoolchildren,” says Deborah Losse, dean of the Division of Humanities in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Joining the ASU delegation for this event were Steve West, director of the Center for Asian Research; Joe Cutter, chair of the Department of Languages and Literatures; Madeline Spring, the new director of ASU’s Chinese Language Program; Bill Davey, the director of international programs; Jewell Parker Rhodes, a professor of English; Neal Lester, chair of the Department of English; and Jay Boyer, a professor of English.

In conjunction with the Confucius luncheon, the ASU delegation met with a cohort of five ASU master’s students from the Piper Center for Creative Writing. The students are building a program in creative writing with faculty and students at Sichuan University, with the goal of creating a “national model” creative-writing curriculum in China.

Sichuan University also played host to a meeting on the University Design Institute, which ASU and Sichuan University founded in 2006 to serve as a “think tank” for universities throughout the world to help them find new ways to teach and do research in the changing world. Attendees from Sichuan University included Xie Heping, president, and Shi Jian, vice president.

Crow, Rock and Pei also strengthened ASU-China relationships that will send additional Chinese executives to ASU’s EMBA program, including members of the Shanghai National Accounting Institute and Hongda Co. Ltd., a Sichuan-based company founded in 1979 by Canglong Liu, whose businesses include chemicals and metallurgy.

Crow, Rock and Pei explored further additional collaborations, too, such as inviting visiting scholars from the Baosteel Group Corp., Shanghai, to engage with the ASU School of Materials; and collaboration with the Sichuan University Medical School on evidence-based research collaboration and translational genomics.

There also will be new ASU-China connections at SkySong. Crow, Rock and Pei met with Liu Hongjian, deputy party secretary of Chengdu, to discuss the Arizona-Sichuan Business Development Portal program agreement, which was signed by Crow and Shi Lei, director of the Chengdu Bureau of Commerce, and advance the connection between businesses in Chengdu and Phoenix through SkySong.
For more information on ASU’s China partnerships and collaborations, visit the Web page