WWU explores collaboration in China, Mongolia

Western Washington University President Bruce Shepard recently returned from visiting universities in China and Mongolia to expand Western’s global engagement activities and explore opportunities for collaboration and partnership. 

Shepard and a group of WWU administrators visited four of China’s universities -- Qingdao University, Hangzhou Normal University, Zhejiang University, and Southwest University -- from Monday, Nov. 17, to Wednesday, Nov. 19.

The group was in Mongolia from Thursday, Nov. 20, to Sunday, Nov. 23, visiting the National University of Mongolia, Mongolia University of Science and Technology and Mongolian National University of Education. 

“For the past several years we've been having a campus conversation about what it means for Western to be a globally engaged university,” Shepard said after his return. “These days, ‘international’ is about a lot more than student exchanges, and the U.S. isn't the unique hub to which every country longs to send its students, but one among many nodes in a complex knowledge network. This trip was an exploration of the opportunities Western now has to bring the world to Washington and Washington to the world as never before, and in just about every aspect of our mission.”

Traveling with the president were Earl Gibbons, vice provost for Extended Education; Francisco Rios, dean of Woodring College of Education; LeaAnn Martin, dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences; Mark Greenberg, dean of Western Libraries; Vicki Hamblin, executive director of the Center for International Studies; and Lilly Yang, a Modern and Classical Languages instructor.

The group visited the seven universities and met with their presidents to build on current relationships and expand relationships with new universities in China and Mongolia, Gibbons said. While in Mongolia, Shepard called on the U.S. Embassy in Ulaan Baatar and received the embassy’s hearty endorsement of Western’s strategic meetings with the top three Mongolian universities and obtained embassy officials’ pledge of support for Western’s efforts there, Gibbons added.

“The trip provided exploration of additional opportunities for student and faculty exchange, joint research activities, exchange of academic publications and information and other academic activities,” he said.

Shepard left on his trip on Saturday, Nov. 15 and returned on Sunday, Nov. 23.

This was Shepard’s second trip to Asia on behalf of Western. He traveled to South Korea and Japan in the summer of 2013. The purpose of that trip was to recognize the 25-year success of the Asia University America Program and to expand that program to other universities in Asia, particularly in Korea. That trip led directly to Woodring College’s partnership with Kyungpook National University on a major international teacher education project funded by the Korean government.