U-M President Plans First International Visit to China


ANN ARBOR—The University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel will begin his first international visit representing the university July 5 when he travels to Beijing and Shanghai to spend a week meeting with alumni, students, and Chinese research partners. 

The president selected China — the world’s second-biggest economy — for his first overseas trip because U-M has deep historical ties with the country and successful research collaborations with the nation’s top universities. China has also become the most common destination
 for U-M students seeking education abroad experiences. 

“China  will continue to have a major impact on the world, and there is intense interest in the country among our students and faculty,” Schlissel says. “The nation’s large population and wide array of academic and research institutions make it an excellent place  from which to attract academic talent and establish the mutually valuable partnerships that U-M needs to remain a world-leading research institution.”

U-M’s  early engagement with China has been largely attributed to James B. Angell, who in 1880-81 took leave as the university’s president to serve as the American ambassador, then known as the U.S. minister, to China. Angell later played a key role in creating scholarship
 programs for Chinese students to study in the U.S.

The university continues to be deeply engaged with China:

  • More than 40 faculty are conducting research in China.
  • More than 2,500  students from China studied at U-M in 2014— the largest group of international students.
  • More than 520 trips were made to China during the 2014-15 academic year by 430 different faculty, students and staff.
  • A record 254 students pursued education abroad experiences for credit in 2013-14 in China, while an additional 58 went to the country for noncredit internships, research and volunteer experiences.

“We have many deep interactions with partners in China, with educational and scholarly programs ranging from intensive language study, engineering and technology, to social science research, gender studies and public health studies,” says James Holloway, U-M vice provost for global and engaged education. “There is a richness and depth to Chinese culture that makes it an amazing place in which an educational institution like Michigan can engage.”

Holloway will accompany Schlissel on the trip, along with Jack Hu, U-M interim vice president for research. Schlissel’s itinerary will include an alumni reception in Beijing July 7 and another one in Shanghai July 9. China is home to at least 3,878 alumni.

The president’s trip will begin in Beijing, where he will visit the University of Michigan-Peking University Health Science Center Joint Institute for Translational and Clinical Research. Founded in 2010, the collaboration seeks to catalyze pilot projects on diseases  of interest to both countries. Twenty-five of the 29 departments at U-M Medical School have been involved with the joint institute.

Also in Beijing the president will visit Tsinghua University for meetings at the School of Environment and the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center. U-M is a partner in CERC, which researches clean vehicle technologies. The $50 million project is sponsored in part by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology.

The Shanghai leg of the trip will begin with a visit to Fudan University, where the president will meet with senior leaders at the institution. Schlissel will also stop by the U-M-Fudan Joint Institute on Gender Studies. Founded in 2005, the center promotes the  teaching and research of gender issues.

Schlissel’s visit will include a visit to Shanghai Jiao Tong University, where he will attend a board meeting to discuss U-M’s biggest international partnership. In 2006, the two universities founded the U-M-Shanghai Jiao Tong University Joint Institute,  where more than 1,000 undergraduates study mechanical or electrical and computer engineering. Last year, the Joint Institute won an Andrew Heiskell Award, one of the highest honors in international education.

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