BEIJING and BLOOMINGTON, Ind.—Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie concluded an official visit to Beijing today by dedicating IU's international gateway office for China, a new home base of university activities in the country.
Over the past two days, McRobbie also has signed new agreements with China University of Political Science and Law, Tsinghua University and Beijing Sport University and renewed IU's primary agreement with Tsinghua University, the top-ranked university in China.
He also met with Max Baucus, the U.S. ambassador to China, and with IU alumni. This was McRobbie's fifth visit to China since becoming IU's president in 2007.
The IU China Office is in the China Education and Research Network building, known as CERNET, in the Tsinghua Science Park, the science park of China’s top-ranked Tsinghua University.
Since 2011, IU has been leading a National Science Foundation initiative to link the CERNET with Internet2 and other U.S. research and education networks. This has allowed researchers in both the United States and China to more easily collaborate and share research data.
Like IU's other gateway facility near New Delhi, India, the IU China Office will support scholarly research and teaching, conferences and workshops, study abroad programs, distance learning initiatives, executive and corporate programs, and alumni events.
McRobbie said the facility will enable the university to accelerate academic initiatives and partnerships throughout China and will support a wide variety of activities.
"Indiana University has a long history of engagement in China, which laid the foundation for our announcement today to expand more of a much-needed presence here," he said. "This new gateway office will provide many outstanding benefits to our faculty, students and visiting scholars.
"At the same time that many of our students are attracted to China, IU continues to be a desired destination and partner for talented students and scholars from China. Appropriately, the IU China Office is a portal that will function in both directions, facilitating excellent access to opportunities in the country for IU faculty and students while at the same time allowing our China-based students, alumni and partners to connect directly with the university."
There are now 3,520 Chinese students at IU. Additionally, 225 students from across IU studied in China last year. Chinese students account for than 40 percent of IU's international enrollment.
The 370-square-meter IU China Office will include a 22-seat, state-of-the-art videoconferencing facility that can be used for distance learning and professional meetings. It also will have six offices, including one that will be occupied by an Internet2 staff member.
It also will be home to the Beijing office of the Research Center for Chinese Politics and Business, which since 2007 has provided a more detailed understanding of China's increasing role in the world's economy. Its director, Scott Kennedy, an associate professor of East Asian language and cultures and political science, also will serve as academic director of the IU China Office.
On Monday, the Research Center for Chinese Politics and Business and IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis will host the first official event at the new office, a workshop 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 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.
Today's dedication ceremony followed a whirlwind of activity with three of China's leading universities, all based in the nation's capital.
On Thursday, McRobbie signed an agreement between IU's Maurer School of Law and China University of Political Science and Law, establishing a new Academy for the Study of Chinese Law and Comparative Judicial Systems.
"The new academy will foster lecture and research exchanges among leading faculty at both Indiana University and China University of Political Science and Law," said Austen L. Parrish, dean of the Maurer School of Law and the James H. Rudy Professor of Law. "The academy will be a tremendous asset, and we are proud to be partnering with one of the finest law schools in China."
Mohammad R. Torabi, founding dean and Chancellor's Professor in the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington, was part of the IU delegation at the signing ceremony at Beijing Sport University.
Torabi said the partnership is strategically important, given Beijing Sport University’s expertise and position in sport and recreation. It is home to multiple Chinese national sport teams, allowing Beijing Sport University sport scientists to conduct extensive research related to these athletes. Like at IU, many former Beijing Sport faculty and students have gone on to become Olympic gold medalists.
"This partnership aligns with the School of Public Health-Bloomington’s innovative approach to public health," McRobbie added. "A wealth of research has shown that sport and recreation improve quality of life, mitigate non-communicable diseases, improve mental health, promote youth development, reduce health-related workplace costs and prevent early death."
The two schools have been affiliates since the late 1980s, and the partnership signed today will lead to further research collaboration, McRobbie said.
The IU delegation also met with leaders from Tsinghua University, the top-ranked university in China. Before the opening of the IU China Office, McRobbie signed a new agreement with Tsinghua on behalf of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.
For the past year, Kennedy and Angela Bies, director of international programs at the Lilly Family School, have been working on a research and teaching initiative with support from the Henry Luce and Ford foundations. As a result of the agreement signed today, the Lilly School and Tsinghua University will create a research institute to further study the role of philanthropy and non-governmental organizations in China.
IU and Tsinghua University also renewed their primary agreement together.
Joining McRobbie on his latest visit to China were IU Vice President for International Affairs David Zaret, IU first lady Laurie Burns McRobbie and IU Foundation President and CEO Dan Smith.
After leaving China, McRobbie and the rest of the IU delegation will travel to Singapore and Hong Kong. Reports about the trip are available at a blog site, IU Goes to Asia, as well as new website, IU Worldwide, and through official IU social media channels on Facebook and Twitter.