The University of Michigan and Shanghai Jiao Tong University have renewed their support of the Joint Institute, signing another 10-year agreement and dedicating a new building to the institute.

The UM-SJTU Joint Institute, located in Shanghai, began in 2006 with the goal to build a world-class teaching and research institute in China and to nurture innovative leaders with a global perspective. It was born out of faculty exchanges and research collaborations between the University and SJTU led by Professor Jun Ni, an alum of SJTU and current U-M professor of engineering and Shien-Ming (Sam) Wu professor of manufacturing science. 

Pamela Byrnes, U.S. director of the UM-SJTU Joint Institute, feels Ni strived greatly to make the Institute a success.

“Professor Jun Ni went out to recruit faculty and students,” Byrnes said. “He worked between both institutions, the SJTU and the University of Michigan, to help make this a realization.”

In 2014, the institute was awarded the Andrew Heiskell Award for Innovation in Higher Education from the Institute of International Education, one of the most prestigious awards in international education.

Currently, students from 17 countries attend the Joint Institute for full-time degree programs and short-term exchange programs. The curriculum is modeled on curriculum at the University of Michigan and many U-M students elect to attend the Joint Institute as a part of a study abroad program.

In collaboration with the University of Michigan, the Joint Institute offers a dual-degree program. Through this program, students spend their first two years at the Joint Institute in Shanghai. The final two years are spent at the University of Michigan, where the students earn their bachelor’s degree in one of 15 majors through the College of Engineering, or in math or physics through LSA. After the completion of a U-M bachelor’s degree, the students then return to SJTU to complete the remaining requirements, ultimately earning two degrees, one each from U-M and SJTU.

“The Joint Institute is a great way for people from very different cultures to get to know each other, understand the cultures and be able to work globally on global issues,” Byrnes said.  “There are all sorts of different avenues of connections for these students.”

A new program, the Global Degree Pathway, became formalized with the new 10-year agreement. This program gives all students who complete a bachelor’s degree at the Joint Institute a chance to pursue a master’s degree in a variety of disciplines at the University of Michigan and other international institutions.

Amy Conger, assistant vice provost of global and engaged education, said the Institute is striving to make the program better each year.

“We learned very much from the success of the dual-degree program, and going into the Joint Institute’s second decade, we are trying to envision what JI graduates need at this time,” Conger said. “More and more we are seeing deep value in the combination of an undergraduate degree in an engineering discipline plus a graduate degree from an international institution in either engineering or a complementary field.”

There are currently multiple graduate programs at the University of Michigan that will be offered through the GDP, including programs in the College of Engineering, the School of Information and the Ross School of Business.

“Undergraduate students now can take advantage of some of the pathways, and we are working very quickly to build additional degree options with different international institutions,” Conger said.

Along with the renewed agreement, a new building has been dedicated to the Joint Institute. The Long Bin Building in Shanghai is named after the parents of John Wu, a U-M alum who in 2015 donated $10 million to support the Joint Institute.

This building is home to all of the operations of the Joint Institute and is another step in its evolution.

“The building has many different discussion areas, lounges and laboratories for research,” Byrnes said. “It will be a huge center for student activity.”

University President Mark Schlissel expressed his support for the renewed agreement in an article published by the University Record.

“The Shanghai Jiao Tong University collaboration is U-M’s largest and most comprehensive partnership in China,” Schlissel said. “It has given hundreds of students from both our nations the opportunity to pursue excellent academic programs and conduct research. We have also fostered more than a decade of research interactions among faculty. I am further excited by the possibilities as we extend and enhance our partnership.”

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