Strengthening Collaboration and Exploring International Exchange Opportunities
Forefront: Dr. Andrew Hugine, Jr., and Nanjing Forestry University President Chao Fuliang at signing ceremony.
Alabama A&M University has moved an additional step in fostering its productive relationship with major university in China.
Only days ago, AAMU President Andrew Hugine, Jr., was accompanied by Dr. Lloyd Walker, interim dean of the College of Agricultural, Life and Natural Sciences, and Dr. Yong Wang, principle investigator for the National Science Foundation-sponsored Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) in China Program.
The visit was prompted by an invitation from AAMU’s partner in China, Nanjing Forestry University (NFU), for the grand celebration of its 110th anniversary, as well as to further explore opportunities for international research and education collaboration between the two institutions. Prior to President Hugine’s official visit, AAMU hosted three delegations from Nanjing Forestry University.
One of Hugine’s main orders of business while in China was to pay an official visit to the National Center for Chinese Education and the Headquarters of the Confucius Institute in Beijing (http://english.hanban.org/node_7716.htm). In 2011, AAMU and NFU jointly initiated an effort to establish a Confucius Institute at AAMU. The two institutions have been working together to develop a proposal to submit to Chinese officials for their approval.
President Hugine and Dr. Li Pingping, vice president for international affairs, and Dr. Fang Shengzuo, the director of the Office of International Cooperation and Exchange at NFU, personally presented the proposal to the top Confucius Institute officials in China. If the proposal is accepted, an Institute will be established on the AAMU campus to foster a greater understanding and appreciation of Chinese culture through language and culture courses, as well as fostering cross-collaborative research and education.
AAMU has received broad support for the establishment of a Confucius Institute on the campus from the Board of Trustees, the Mayor of Huntsville, the Chinese American Community and the Chamber of Commerce. Moreover, A&M has already identified a space to house the Institute and will commit other resources for its establishment and operation. Meanwhile, NFU will provide professors to teach the curricula.
While at NFU, the AAMU delegation attended a ceremonial signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two universities. During the signing ceremony, President Hugine pointed out the similarities between AAMU and NFU, both in their missions and programs. He noted that the similarities present a strong case for collaboration.
Both institutions realize that students must be prepared to function as productive citizens in an increasingly global environment. AAMU and NFU began this journey of collaboration in 2009 and have had some noted accomplishments. Through the support of two competitive grants from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and NSF, 35 faculty and students have visited NFU over the past three years. In summer 2012, a dozen students and faculty/staff (5) conducted research at NFU through the REU program, which included students from other U.S. universities, such as Michigan State University, University of Connecticut, and Arizona State University.
Additionally, AAMU has added two new courses to the curriculum for international internship experience, opening the door for even more students and faculty to participate in the exchange program between AAMU and NFU, according to Hugine.
As a distinguished guest, Hugine delivered a speech on behalf of AAMU and as a representative of all international delegates invited to attend the celebration of the 110th anniversary of the founding of NFU. He extended congratulations to NFU
students, faculty and staff for their tremendous accomplishments during the past eleven decades. President Hugine commented on the tremendous growth and development of NFU over the past 110 years, noting, “In that time, NFU has developed into a comprehensive institution serving the economic and educational needs of an increasingly global Chinese society, with 58 undergraduate programs, 90 master’s programs and 36 doctoral programs. NFU is now playing a leadership role in China and internationally for ‘Promoting Green Culture, Leading Ecological Civilizations.’”
President Hugine also thanked NFU for its collaborative efforts with AAMU and said AAMU looks forward to strengthening and enhancing them. He predicted that collaboration between the two institutions will bring tremendous rewards, as the now famous poplar tree hybrids—developed by NFU researchers using genetic stocks from China, the U.S. and other countries—brought to China.
While at NFU, the AAMU delegation had multiple meetings with NFU administrators, the deans, and faculty members to discuss strategies, opportunities, and logistic arrangements for further enhancing the collaboration between the two institutions. Some of the immediate potential opportunities for AAMU students include: (1) summer study abroad program at NFU for undergraduate and graduate students at NFU: AAMU students may sign up for credit hours at home institute and then visit NFU for the experience; (2) graduate student training opportunities: NFU will provide scholarships to AAMU graduate students who are interested in study in China and jointly mentored by faculty from AAMU and NFU.
The delegates, Hugine, Walker, and Wang, also visited laboratories and research facilities that had hosted AAMU students and faculty during the last three years. Additionally, they experienced the culture and history of China, including a walk along the Great Wall and visiting the historical sites and current developments in Shanghai and Nanjing. The team is grateful to the NFU community to have hosted so graciously, and is looking forward to a long and prosperous relationship.
Special Reporting Thanks to: Dr. Yong Wang
Edited by: J. Saintjones
Weblink for the report at Nanjing Forestry University website: http://news.njfu.edu.cn/pub/jspcms/p1_l636_r7573.htm and http://news.njfu.edu.cn/pub/jspcms/p1_l636_r7524.htm