Partnership-building tour strengthens ties in China
Students at the Xiamen University of Technology pose with President Vianne Timmons during her tour of their campus. The school was one of the many stops made by a University of Regina delegation during a partnership-building tour in China, Sept. 13-25. -Photo by Gary Boire, Vice-President (Academic)

President Vianne Timmons recently led a University of Regina delegation on a tour through China as part of a greater initiative that is taking place this fall to connect with the University's local and global partners.

In Saskatchewan, the U of R is engaging the community through a campus open house, a province-wide "Connecting Communities" tour, and online initiatives.

The 13-day trip to China, which took place from September 13-25, was made to strengthen existing international ties and to cultivate new ones.

In addition to meeting with long-standing university partners, Timmons participated in the 4th World Women University Presidents' Forum hosted by Communication University of China in Nanjing. More than 130 women presidents from 37 countries and regions attended the event to share their views and findings about educational and development opportunities for women.

"The University of Regina has a special relationship with China - one that has existed for 30 years," Timmons says. "The vast majority of our international students come from China, and the opportunity is there to develop even closer teaching and research partnerships with Chinese institutions. It was a great honour to represent the University of Regina on this visit."

The introduction of China's Open Door Policy paved the way for the University of Regina's first formal agreement with a Chinese post-secondary institution in 1981 - Shandong University. Since then, the University has built relationships with more than 50 Chinese institutions - relationships that have resulted in joint programs, student exchanges, co-op placements and innovative research projects.

During this trip, the delegation met with representatives from Xiamen University of Technology, Shandong University, Hunan University, North China Electric Power University, China Venture Tech Investment Corporation, National People's Congress and State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs.

"The trip to China has to be an annual event," says Gary Boire, vice-president (Academic). "We have to diversify internationally. We have to get to Nigeria, India, Korea, Vietnam, but China, we can't let that go. We've got so much possibility there in terms of academic benefit, research benefit, teaching, pedagogy, but in terms of international global citizenship, we've got this opportunity we really can't squander."

The University will reciprocate the hospitality it received on this trip in 2011 when a number of Chinese university presidents will come to Regina to help celebrate 100 years of education connected to the U of R and the 30th anniversary of the University's formal relationship with Chinese institutions.

Faculty honours
A number of researchers were presented with honours by the University's Chinese partners during the trip.

Dongyan Blachford, associate dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research, was made an honorary professor and advanced consultant as well as a senior investigator by the Research Institute of Multiculturalism and Applied Philosophy of Hunan University.

"The honour means to me that I need to work harder to promote internationalization by encouraging and participating in the exchange of ideas and research, and most importantly to bring more people on board to work together," says Blachford.

The Xiamen University of Technology made Paitoon Tontiwachwuthikul, dean of Engineering and Applied Science, an honorary director of the Sino-Canada Joint Teaching & Research Center of Membrane Technology.

Hunan University also named Tontiwachwuthikul a director of the Joint International Centre for CO2 Capture and Storage.

David Malloy, associate vice-president (Research), was made an adjunct professor of Hunan University as well as an honorary dean and principal investigator of the Research Institute for Multiculturalism and Applied Philosophy.

Although they were not part of this particular delegation, Christine Chan, professor of software systems engineering, and Raphael Idem, associate dean of Research and Graduate Studies and professor of engineering, were both made adjunct professors of Hunan University.

Gordon Huang, associate dean (International) and professor of engineering, is also held in great esteem. Huang is an adjunct professor of Hunan University. In addition to engaging in numerous collaborative research projects with Chinese institutions, he has hosted many visiting scholars, researchers and graduate students from China.