November 21, 2011 — The University of Virginia welcomed a large delegation from Chinese higher education institutions to Grounds last week as part of efforts to forge a strategic partnership.
The School of Continuing and Professional Studies organized Tuesday's gathering. Dean Billy Cannaday said it is one way the University is presenting a single voice to colleagues in China.
"The purpose of the meeting was to demonstrate the University's unified commitment to the importance of creating a sustainable international relationship with China," he said. "It was a rare opportunity where the University as a whole could deliver a single message that we want to make China a strategic partner."
Cannaday noted that faculty across Grounds have established numerous personal relationships with partners in China over the years. "These relationships are extremely valuable," he said. "But they represent several pretty pieces instead of a mosaic."
The 23-member Chinese delegation included high-level officials from several universities, including Shanghai's University of Finance and Economics, the University of Science and Technology in Beijing and Hunan Normal University.
University Vice President and Provost John Simon, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Michael Strine and deans and representatives from 10 of the University's 11 schools attended a luncheon in the Colonnade Club. The visit continued in the Board of Visitors room in the Rotunda, and included presentations on operations and structure from Simon, School of Engineering and Applied Science Dean James Aylor and McIntire School of Commerce Dean Carl Zeithaml.
Speaking during the luncheon, the president of China's University of Mining and Technology, Ge Shirong, said China's higher education sector is exploding and administrators are playing catch-up.
"Our education is expanding very fast in China," he said. "There are 2,305 Universities in China today," he told the gathering, aided by a translator. "We have 31 million students."
"There are still gaps between China and others. This is why we come to your university to try to learn," he added, saying the delegates are eager to understand how the University, which he termed "world class," operates. "I'm sure the visit will help to strengthen relationships."
"We also highly anticipate your president's visit to China next spring," Ge said.
U.Va. President Teresa A. Sullivan will depart for China in late May. Her itinerary is still being determined.
Last week's meeting grew out of a relationship the School of Continuing and Professional Studies began just last year with Triway, a group that places Chinese groups in professional training programs in the United States.
One of the first programs SCPS offered through Triway was the News Media in America Program, which teaches professional journalists from China how American journalists operate and what their role is in society.
In all, SCPS offers 10 workshops thru Triway and demand is growing. Last summer, 300 undergraduate students from Jiangsu Province attended a workshop on entering graduate school in the United States. Bob Ranson of SCPS, who teaches the course, said hundreds more students want to take the 2012 class. "It was a busy, busy summer!"