In his first international trip as the University’s chief administrator, University President Mark Schlissel will head to China early this July to continue collaboration with the country’s universities, as well as to meet alumni, faculty and students studying abroad.

In an interview with The Michigan Daily on Friday, Schlissel said the visit — slated for the week of July 5 — is demonstrative of the University’s growing presence in China.

“Michigan is a global university, and I think in the decades ahead more so,” he said. “The world is becoming smaller, people are traveling and communicating with one another, students are traveling the globe, so reaching out around the world is an important part of my job.”

Schlissel visit Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Peking University. Fifty University undergraduates currently attend SJTU each summer through the UM-SJTU Joint Institute to study physics, math and engineering. Likewise, 100 Chinese students from SJTU come to the University each year to complete degrees in the same fields.

The University has engaged in extensive medical research collaboration with Peking University, so Schlissel’s tour there will largely revolve around its Health Science Center in Beijing, which houses the University’s Joint Institute for Translational and Clinical Research.

“U-M has many significant engagements in China, and this trip will allow the president to learn more about those engagements firsthand, and to meet and build relationships with the leaders of our partner institutions,” said James Holloway, vice provost for global and engaged education in a press release.

Holloway will travel to China with Schlissel.

University President Emerita Mary Sue Coleman first traveled to China in 2005, three years into her presidency. Developing the University’s relationship abroad was a major theme of her presidency, exemplified by presidential trips to India , Ghana, South Africa and Brazil.

Kenneth Lieberthal, a senior fellow in public policy at the Brookings Institute and former University political science professor, said in January 2008 that engaging with China was a way to gain a deeper understanding of its culture, economy and global impact.

Lieberthal was part of a taskforce, commissioned by Coleman, to determine efforts for using University resources to help improve the University’s understanding of China.

Currently, China is home to almost 5,000 University alumni and 200 study abroad students.

In the 2007-2008 academic year, LSA’s academic theme was “China in the World.”

“China is going to be a major force in the 21st century and so I think it’s very important for our students to be exposed and to understand the culture and the politics and the current issues in China,” Coleman said in an October 2007 interview with the Daily.

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