William & Mary has entered into a “sister university" arrangement with the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China (UESTC), a relationship that both sides hope will generate a wide range of mutually beneficial educational and research initiatives.
William & Mary President Taylor Reveley and UESTC Vice President of International Affairs Wang Houjun signed a memorandum of understanding at a Dec. 14 ceremony in the Great Hall of the Wren Building.
“The College of William and Mary is the second-oldest university in the states, a quality institute of higher learning with a world-renowned reputation,” Wang said in prepared remarks. “Her name is associated with such figures as President George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. We feel so honored to visit this time-honored college and we are fascinated that our two institutes can become sister universities and carry out more extensive collaborations in the future.”
“UESTC is one of the most distinguished universities in China,” said Reveley. “We look forward to an exchange of faculty and students in academic programs and cultural exchanges between Chengdu and Williamsburg.” Reveley added that “The agreement that we sign today is modest, but it contemplates earnest cooperation in the exploration of our future together. History shows that the future often favors modest beginnings earnestly pursued.”
The signing ceremony was the high point in a three-day visit to William & Mary by a UESTC delegation. The Chinese visitors had an agenda filled with tours of College facilities and meetings with scholars, researchers and administrators from William & Mary.
“The meetings are to talk about what both sides want from this relationship,” said Dennis Manos, William & Mary’s vice provost for research. The meetings were organized by topic. There was a science and environmental group, led by Manos and VIMS Professor Emeritus Dennis Taylor; a business group, led by Mason School of Business Dean Larry Pulley; and a sister school relations group let by Ron St. Onge, interim director of the Reves Center International Studies.
Manos said inter-university collaborations would likely grow from a number of collaborative projects among individual faculty at both institutions. For example, he noted that he worked with former UESTC President Liu Shenggang on a defense-funded microwave tube project at William & Mary’s Applied Research Center. Also, C.K. Li, Ferguson Professor of Mathematics at William & Mary, is preparing to work with UESTC scientists on applications of his matrix theory.
Members of the UESTC delegation toured the Integrated Science Center, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and Miller Hall, home of the Mason School of Business. The group also visited William & Mary’s Muscarelle Museum.
Manos said UESTC and William & Mary could draw on each other’s contrasting strengths. While William & Mary is the second-oldest college in a relatively young country, UESTC, he noted, is a relatively new institution in a region of China that was an important capital in the ancient Three Kingdoms era.
“It’s a very interesting university located in Chengdu, a very interesting area of China,” Manos said. “UESTC began as a technical university and now is interested in broadening its scope. A liberal arts university like William & Mary would be able to offer a lot to such a place.”
William & Mary has a number of international partners in higher education, including a joint degree program with the University of St Andrews in Scotland, which will enroll its first students in fall, 2011.
“St Andrews is a booming collaboration and UESTC is aware of what we’ve done with St Andrews and looks at that as a good model of what they’d like to have with us,” Manos said.