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Global Connections

China and CSU advance a wealth of partnerships

September 8, 2010
By Paul Miller

China and the United States may be separated by thousands of miles of ocean, but the two major world players are shrinking the distance through a raft of educational, artistic, and scientific exchanges.

Strategic partnerships in China

Mutually beneficial relations between Colorado State and several universities in China have picked up speed lately, and the hope is to continue developing partnerships in a wealth of areas. “Strategic partnerships in China are the anchor to our relationships,” says Jim Cooney, vice provost for International Affairs. “That’s what makes our CSU-China strategy both unique and successful.”

Todd Queen, co-director of the School of the Arts, welcomes Hou Runyu, director of Orchestras at East China Normal University at a sold-out concert last April.

Of the 890 current international students from 82 countries at the University, 111 are from China – 20 undergraduates and 91 graduate-level students.

“CSU’s partnership with China is a prime example of what a land-grant university like ours is capable of doing to support a globalized world,” Cooney says.

Almost a dozen different CSU groups visited China in October to continue programs to share scientific knowledge, collaborate on major research, and participate in musical events. This year, more than 20 faculty and students visited China, says Wei Gao, senior research scientist at the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory. Gao, who was appointed director of CSU’s China Initiatives in 2008, says that, although China’s higher education institutions remain highly competitive and difficult to enter, students now have more choices in topics of study and more families can afford to send their children to universities abroad.

Chinese students very interested in pursuing a quality education

“CSU is uniquely positioned to offer excellent academic programs in agriculture, natural resources, engineering, veterinary medicine, business – you name it,” Gao says. “As part of an emerging powerhouse, Chinese students are very interested in pursuing the best education.”

CSU has three strategic partners in China – East China Normal University in Shanghai, China Agricultural University in Beijing, and Hunan University in Changsha, which is the oldest university in China founded more than 1,000 years ago.

“We also work very closely with the Chinese Association for Science and Technology, the equivalent of the National Science Foundation in the United States, and with the Ministry for Science and Technology,” Cooney says.

Musical artistry, educational and cultural opportunities

CSU President Tony Frank, left, and Todd Queen present the Chinese delegation with welcome gifts on stage at Griffin Concert Hall last April.

The partnership between CSU and ECNU has included musical artistry. Todd Queen, co-director of the School of the Arts and chairman of the Department of Music, Theatre, and Dance, traveled to Shanghai in 2009 as part of a CSU delegation. During the trip, Queen sang alongside the ECNU opera director at the university’s anniversary celebration concert. The program, performed by student and faculty vocalists and an 80-piece student orchestra, included an overture written by ECNU’s resident composer.

Students from both universities actively participate in educational and cultural opportunities ranging from one-year study abroad programs to graduate degrees. Underscoring the importance of the partnership, CSU in April hosted a contingent of ECNU students that visited Fort Collins during East-West Week. Highlights included a joint presentation of Beethoven’s monumental Symphony No. 9 featuring ECNU students and the CSU Choirs and University Symphony Orchestra.

Campuswide International Colloquium on China Sept. 8-10

Strong ties with the Far East continue when CSU hosts a campuswide International Colloquium on China in September. Distinguished Chinese participants, including two university presidents, will travel to Fort Collins for the event. The colloquium will feature 12 panel presentations organized by all eight colleges at CSU on topics ranging from food safety to renewable energy to protecting pandas.

In October, a senior delegation from CSU will return to China for meetings in four major cities.

Originally published in Colorado State Magazine, Fall 2010.