Mark S. Schlissel will begin his first international visit as president of the University of Michigan on 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 also has 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 said. “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 United States.
The university continues to be deeply engaged with China:
• More than 40 faculty members are conducting research in China.
• 2,542 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 non-credit 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,” said James Holloway, 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, interim vice president for research.
Schlissel’s itinerary will include an alumni reception in Beijing on July 7 and another one in Shanghai on July 9. China is home to at least 3,878 alumni.
The president’s trip will begin in Beijing, where he will visit the UM-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 the 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 also will stop by the U-M-Fudan Joint Institute on Gender Studies. Founded in 2005, the center promotes the teaching and research of gender issues.
Later in the day, the president will tour the Shanghai Jiao Tong University Medical School.
Schlissel’s final full day in China 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 UM-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.
The president will have lunch with U-M students in the summer program at the Joint Institute, and later in the day he will meet with faculty, staff and students.