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Willamette President M. Lee Pelton (front right) signs a sister university agreement with the East China University of Political Science and Law.Willamette President M. Lee Pelton (front right) signs a sister university agreement with the East China University of Political Science and Law.

Pelton and the Willamette deligation visit Xiamen University to resume a sister university relationship.Pelton and the Willamette deligation visit Xiamen University to resume a sister university relationship.

Pelton meets with Vice President Zhang Xueguang of Soochow University.Pelton meets with Vice President Zhang Xueguang of Soochow University.

The Willamette delegation visits Suzhou University of Science and Technology. Left to right: David Douglass, Madeleine Rhyneer, Lee Pelton, Suzhou University President Chen Zhigang, Vice President Yao Hai, and Director Ye Qizeng of the Department of International Affairs.The Willamette delegation visits Suzhou University of Science and Technology. Left to right: David Douglass, Madeleine Rhyneer, Lee Pelton, Suzhou University President Chen Zhigang, Vice President Yao Hai, and Director Ye Qizeng of the Department of International Affairs.

    Willamette Delegation Visits China to Expand Foreign Relationships

    Willamette University President M. Lee Pelton led a small delegation to China in early November to officially extend Willamette’s relationships with several Chinese universities and explore opportunities for new partnerships.

    These strengthened relationships will lead to more student and faculty exchange, joint research projects, summer post-sessions and training or certificate programs.

    The trip was Pelton's first visit to China, and the first university delegation to the country in seven years - and all were impressed by the energy of the economic and cultural powerhouse.

    "The country's developing economy, rapid progress and gorgeous infrastructure greatly influenced our feelings about the importance of our historic and new relationships with Chinese universities," Pelton says.

    Willamette already has ties to the Asian country, including multiple faculty conducting research and teaching about China and a commitment to enrolling more Chinese students at Willamette. The university currently enrolls 11 students from China - three in the College of Liberal Arts and eight in the Atkinson Graduate School of Management.

    "This visit marked another step in diversifying and internationalizing our campus," says Chinese Professor Juwen Zhang, who represented Willamette's Center for Asian Studies on the trip. "A culturally diverse campus will help achieve academic excellence, fulfill our university's mission and better prepare our students for this new century."

    David Douglass, interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts, and Madeleine Rhyneer, vice president for admission and financial aid, also were part of the delegation. They visited Soochow University and Suzhou University of Science and Technology (SUST) in Suzhou to discuss possible future cooperative programs.

    They also visited East China University of Politics and Law (ECUPL) in Shanghai and Xiamen University in Xiamen, and Rhyneer went to Beijing to explore recruiting opportunities.

    Relationship with ECUPL

    Pelton and Du Zhichun, chair of ECUPL, signed an agreement extending the relationship between the Chinese university and Willamette.

    For 25 years, Willamette University College of Law and ECUPL have had a sister-school relationship, initiated by law Professor James Nafziger, which involves faculty exchanges, symposia on Chinese law, summer study for students from around the world, and Chinese students pursuing law degrees at Willamette.

    The relationship also includes an annual summer program for ECUPL students on the Willamette campus. Willamette presented an honorary degree in 2007 to Judge Cao Jianming, former president of ECUPL and now procurator-general of the Supreme People's Procuratorate of China.

    Partnership with Xiamen University

    Pelton and President Zhu Chongshi from Xiamen University, witnessed by Vice President Wu Daguang, signed an agreement to resume a sister university relationship.

    The two schools first became sister universities in 1985, and more than a dozen professors were exchanged in the first few years until the relationship stopped.

    In 2005, Zhang hosted a visiting scholar from Xiamen University, Ji Yuhua, at Willamette for six months. Zhang visited Xiamen University in 2008 to discuss re-establishing the sister university relationship.

    Cultural Sustainability

    The delegation also explored the possibility of forming a partnership with a Chinese university to create a new summer institute for cultural sustainability, open to students from countries worldwide.

    "The institute would train students to become more engaged in their communities and active on issues of cultural sustainability," Douglass says. "It would provide hands-on training in a variety of forms of persuasion, ranging from new media to debate."

    Rhyneer was impressed with the eagerness of the Chinese university officials and students to expand relations with Willamette.

    "We see a tremendous upside for our students in the form of increased exchanges at all levels, greater participation in Chinese language and culture courses, and hopefully more Willamette students choosing to study in China," she says. "We are delighted to reaffirm our long-term relationships and look for new opportunities for cooperation and mutual exchange."