College forges collaboration with Chinese universities
By Nancy Weiss
College forges collaborations with Chinese universities
By Nancy Weiss
The world becomes a smaller place when friends and former colleagues have the chance to work together, according to Dean Greg Weidemann and Associate Dean for Academic Programs and Associate Dean for Research Cameron Faustman.
For Weidemann, 2010 was the year of two trips to China, working toward the College’s goal to ramp up international endeavors. In the spring of 2010, a delegation from the College visited several Chinese institutions where there were opportunities for cooperation and signed a collaboration agreement with the Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University.
The College’s International Committee’s strategy is to develop programs that emphasize a few significant, long-term relationships rather than a larger number of less-strategic exchanges.
China is the College’s top priority for international exchanges as the College has many connections there, key institutional partners were interested in UConn as a partner, and China is moving forward rapidly in higher education.
The spring UConn delegation included Weidemann, Faustman, Professor Xiusheng Yang from the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, Professor Yi Li of the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, Professor and department head John Volin of the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, and Professor and department head Rigoberto Lopez of the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.
When he returned to China in the fall with Provost Peter Nicholls, Weidemann was ready to sign agreements with two additional institutions and formalize plans for faculty and student exchanges.
Weidemann knows the effect international experiences have on students. “Students come back transformed by the experience. The education they get through these exchanges make them competitive on a world-wide basis,” he said.
The group visited two outstanding Chinese institutions of higher education and signed formal collaborative agreements. First, they went to China Agricultural University in Beijing, the foremost agricultural institution in China. Based on discussions with the university’s administrative leadership, the College will develop an undergraduate study tour for the summer of 2012 and engage in further discussions regarding faculty and staff exchanges and collaborative research.
Next, the UConn delegation was welcomed at Sichuan University in Chengdu, an institution similar to the University of Connecticut in size and composition.
Connections at Sichuan University are especially meaningful as the delegation from the College was able to work with Dr Qun Sun, formerly a graduate student of Faustman’s who studied in Storrs. Sun completed her MS degree in meat science in 1998 and returned to UConn in 2009–2010 as a Visiting Scientist. Sun’s son is a fan of UConn basketball, so Nicholls arranged for a signed UConn basketball as a special gift.
“Dr. Sun works with food microbiology and has an impressive research and teaching program. She is facilitating the collaborative effort,” Faustman says.
Collaborations with Sichuan University will focus on a new institute at Sichuan University in the field of biosafety. There is also interest in developing collaborations in bioenergy and food and nutrition.
An additional highlight of the trip tour for the Connecticut delegation was a tour of the Panda Research Center, where the members of the group had their pictures taken with pandas.
When asked how it felt to be so close to animals many see as icons of cuteness, Dean Weidemann says, “When I looked at the claws on the adult pandas, I was glad their trainers were standing nearby feeding them apples and retaining their entire attention.”
In July 2011, Rigoberto Lopez will return to China where graduates of his program hold important university positions.
“We have partners in place in China and that makes collaborations much easier to arrange,” says Lopez.