Last month I travelled to China to sign a strategic international alliance with President Daren Huang of Sun Yat-Sen University.
The memorandum we signed December 9 expands the already substantial collaboration between IUPUI and Sun Yat-Sen University. It follows the same pattern as the agreement I signed in 2006 with Moi University in Kenya. Under the new agreement, IUPUI and Sun Yat-Sen University pledge to expand collaboration across the arts and sciences as well as the professions.
IUPUI's strategy of forming campuswide international partnerships led to our receiving the Andrew Heiskell Award for Innovation in International Education from the American Council for Education.
Strategic alliances are long-term, comprehensive collaborations between two universities that advance the internationalization of each institution while also providing linkages for the communities in which these institutions are located.
The China visit revealed current relationships and opportunities.
We met Sun Yat-Sen University medical students who had recently returned from Indianapolis. An IUPUI colleague arrived during our visit for a month at their medical school. I had the opportunity to speak to business students at Lingnan (University) College on "Understanding Universities through the Organizational Communication Culture Method" and Professor Sandra Petronio (my wife) addressed the medical school on "Managing Medical Disclosures with Patients."
Our relationship with Sun Yat-Sen University was a key factor in our being selected in 2007 to house a prestigious Confucius Institute.
Our Confucius Institute is led by Professor "Joe" Xu, a Sun Yat-Sen University graduate and a neuroscientist in the IU School of Medicine. Joe led our visit to Sun Yat-Sen and to Beijing for the annual worldwide conference of the Confucius Institutes.
At the Confucius Institute Conference, I made a presentation on how our Confucius Institute contributes to IUPUI's civic engagement mission.
For example, the Confucius Institute has taken a leadership role, with the Mayor's Office, in establishing the annual Chinese Festival of Indianapolis.
In Beijing we visited Peking University.
We met with Shi Zengzhi, who is Executive Director of the Center for Civil Society Studies, and Joyce Man, a former IUPUI SPEA colleague, who now leads the Peking University-Lincoln Institute Center for Urban Development and Land Policy.
IUPUI Chancellor's Professor Bill Plater is developing a partnership between our Center on Philanthropy and School of Public and Environmental Affairs and Peking University's Center for Civil Society Studies on research and policy development.
Indiana University President Michael McRobbie requested that I visit Zhejiang University in Hangzhou to reinforce IU's interest in partnering.
I was pleased to do so, in part because Hangzhou is Indianapolis's newest sister city and the province of Zhejiang is a sister state to Indiana.
Zhejiang is an impressive university with a history similar to IUPUI.
This institution is a partnership born of the merger of the former Zhejiang University, Hangzhou University, Zhejiang Agricultural University, and Zhejiang Medical University. Like Sun Yat-Sen University, Zhejiang has a top-ranked medical school that is very interested in partnerships with ours.
Visiting five very large cities (the smallest with 6.5 million residents!) and three universities in 11 days made clear the benefit of exchange programs and highlighted the keen interest of the Chinese in partnerships and mutual cultural understanding.
I came home with a clear sense that this moment in time offers an opportunity to create partnerships that span not only the Pacific but centuries of history—a strategic opportunity to foster relationships that will shape our joint future for decades to come.
Charles R. Bantz