IU’s big day in Beijing
As IU President Michael A. McRobbie managed to point out on several occasions during this whirlwind, two-day trip to Beijing, the university has deep ties with China, dating as far back as the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) when an IU graduate, William Alexander Parsons Martin, worked in Beijing as an interpreter for the American Minister to China. IU’s first Chinese alumnus, Showin Wetzen Hsu, graduated in 1909 and went on to serve in a number of high-level governmental and judicial positions.
In more recent years, IU has developed relationships with China’s leading universities, including Peking University, Sun Yat-Sen University, Tsinghua University, Zhejiang University, the China University of Political Science and Law, Beijing University for Business Economics, and Beijing Sport University. These relationships have led to substantial faculty teaching and research collaborations and student exchanges.
Sure enough, China continues to be both a popular spot for IU students to study abroad and a steady supplier of bright international students to IU’s campuses. Last year alone, 225 IU students elected to study in China, and today, over 40 percent of IU’s 8,000 international students come to the university from that country.
What’s more, IU now boasts more than 4,000 alumni affiliated with China, and the university continues to welcome numerous Chinese scholars, students and dignitaries to its campuses.
All of these people and partnerships were on the minds of members of the IU delegation early this morning as they set out to begin what would ultimately be a historic day in the annals of IU’s longstanding engagement with China.
The day began with a trip to renew IU’s partnership agreement with Beijing Sport University, one of the world’s elite sports universities. Beijing Sport University, which just celebrated its 60th anniversary last year, has an amazing athletic tradition: In the past four Olympic Games alone, students and faculty from the university have won a whopping 30 gold medals, 16 silver medals and nine bronze medals.
After walking through the gates of this picturesque campus (some of us wondering how anyone could possibly muster up the desire to work out and sweat surrounded by so much serenity and natural beauty), members of the IU delegation were ushered into a large meeting room, where Beijing Sport University President Yang Hua spoke glowingly about his university’s longstanding relationship, now over 25 years old, with IU and its acclaimed School of Public Health, formerly the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. Remarkably, the relationship between IU and Beijing Sport University spans four IU presidents and four School of Public Health deans; numerous faculty and student exchanges; and major joint initiatives, including several that helped support Beijing’s successful bid for the 2008 Olympic Games.
For his part, McRobbie talked about how honored he and his colleagues were to be visiting Beijing Sport University on such an auspicious occasion: the celebration of a quarter-century relationship between two universities committed, through the new agreement, to continuing faculty, student and staff exchanges and working together to advance their mutual interest in the important role that sports and physical education can play in public health.
As much as members of the IU delegation would’ve liked to have taken a few more laps around the beautiful Beijing Sport University campus, there was much more work to be done on this busy day, including meeting with U.S. Ambassador to China and former U.S. Sen. Max Baucus and members of his staff; then joining leaders from Tsinghua University to both renew IU’s partnership agreement with China’s top-ranked university and ink a new agreement with Tsinghua on behalf of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. As a result of the agreement signed today, the Lilly Family School and Tsinghua University will create a research institute to further study the role of philanthropy and non-governmental organizations in China.
Finally, it was time for the big event of the day: the grand opening ceremony of the IU China Office , the university’s second global gateway facility (the first was opened in New Delhi, India) and a new home base for activities here in China. The office is in the China Education and Research Network building, known as CERNET, in the Tsinghua Science Park, the science park of Tsinghua University.
More than 70 excited guests – including prominent IU Chinese alumni, business and government officials, administrators, faculty, students and staff – were in attendance to help formally inaugurate the new office, which will accelerate IU’s academic initiatives and partnerships, like the ones signed today, throughout China. The office will also accommodate a wide range of activities, including scholarly research and teaching, conferences and workshops, study abroad programs, distance learning initiatives, executive and corporate programs, and alumni events.
In true IU fashion, those activities have already begun. On Monday, the office will host a workshop, organized by the Research Center for Chinese Politics and Business and the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, featuring updates on research projects about philanthropy in China.
During the dedication ceremony, McRobbie presented the Thomas Hart Benton Medallion to IU alumnus Vincent Mo, chairman of the board and CEO of SouFun Holdings Ltd., the largest real estate information provider in China. The Benton Medallion is given to individuals who have achieved a level of distinction in public office or service and have exemplified the values of IU.
He also presented the Distinguished International Service Award to IU Kelley School of Business alumnus Esmond Quek, founder and principal of Ed Bernays, a leading brand consultancy firm in Beijing. The award recognizes extraordinary contributions by individuals, groups and public or private organizations associated with IU whose actions have had a substantial impact on promoting international understanding and service.
Both honorees talked pointedly and passionately about the potential impact the IU China Office might have on their home country; how they hoped the new global gateway facility would be a much-traveled hub of activity; and how proud they were to be part of such an internationally focused institution as IU.
Indeed, it was pride we all felt on this big day for IU in Beijing.
Tags: Beijing, Beijing Sport University, China, Esmond Quek, gateway, Indiana University, IU, IU China Office, Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, Michael A. McRobbie, Research Center for Chinese Politics and Business, School of Public Health, Tsinghua University, Vincent Mo