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UW-Eau Claire chancellor visits Jinan University as invited lecturer

RELEASED: Dec. 9, 2011

Editor's note: Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich will be available to reporters as of Dec. 12 to discuss his recent trip to China. Members of the media may call 715-836-2327 to arrange an interview.

Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich

EAU CLAIRE — University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich returned Dec. 7 from a three-week trip to China, where he was invited to serve as a visiting lecturer at Jinan University's Zhuhai College.

The trip, funded primarily by Jinan University and partly by the UW-Eau Claire Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, allowed the chancellor to enhance his ongoing teaching and research in legal history while also strengthening existing and developing new UW-Eau Claire ties with China.

Both objectives for the trip were "satisfied beyond my expectations," Levin-Stankevich said.

Levin-Stankevich, also a member of UW-Eau Claire's history faculty, regularly teaches a course on legal history. The China trip presented him with opportunities to add "significant perspective" and new material for his courses and research, he said.

The China trip had its origins in conversations between Levin-Stankevich and faculty and administrators from Jinan University in Zhuhai. During a 2010 discussion with the chair of Jinan's law department, Levin-Stankevich suggested that Jinan provide a historical and comparative perspective to its law students. Then, during a visit to UW-Eau Claire last spring, Wei Lei, dean of the College of Humanities on the Zhuhai campus of Jinan University, discussed the possibility of Levin-Stankevich visiting Jinan to lecture. Last summer Dean Wei then extended Levin-Stankevich a formal invitation to lecture at Jinan.

While in China, Levin-Stankevich presented a series of lectures to a combined audience of more than 325 law and translation students and faculty at Jinan's Zhuhai campus. Topics included the evolution of the European and American legal systems, the development of common law, student life at American universities, leadership, and U.S. and global higher education. He also met frequently with students and faculty in informal settings.

Levin-Stankevich's research during the trip involved continuing his investigation of Bao Zheng, an 11th-century official in the Song dynasty, as part of his broader research on how societies subject influential people to justice.

The chancellor spent additional time during his China visit connecting with new prospective partners and reconnecting with long-term partners of UW-Eau Claire.

UW-Eau Claire has had a 21-year relationship with Jinan University — "one of the longest-standing U.S.-China university collaborations in existence," Levin-Stankevich said. "It has provided us the capacity to offer Chinese language courses over the years and for our professors to get a first-hand look at a developing China, a critical geopolitical understanding that our students need to know well."

In addition to Jinan University, Levin-Stankevich visited Sichuan Normal University and Tanghu High School, both located in the city of Chengdu in China's Sichuan province. Tanghu High School is among the top high schools in China, Levin-Stankevich said. He also visited and signed an agreement extending UW-Eau Claire's formal connections with the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute, located in the southwest China city of Chongqing, where UW-Eau Claire is looking to develop a student exchange program.

"This trip was an opportunity for UW-Eau Claire to deepen and expand on both exchanges and student recruitment in China, and also to help us better understand China's higher educational system by interaction with faculty, administrators and students — a closer vantage point than brief visits can provide," Levin-Stankevich said.

There is a high demand among families in China for their students to pursue higher education at quality U.S. universities, and UW-Eau Claire has established a solid reputation among its partners in China, Levin-Stankevich said.

The chancellor noted that increasing UW-Eau Claire's number of international students benefits the region economically. A recent report released by NAFSA: Association of International Educators stated that the 228 international students who studied at UW-Eau Claire during the 2010-11 academic year contributed more than $5.2 million to the Chippewa Valley economy Read a related news release.

Approximately 100 students from China currently attend UW-Eau Claire, said Karl Markgraf, director of the university's Center for International Education. Eighteen Chinese students are enrolled through the Sino-American 1+2+1 Dual-Degree Program, an exchange program facilitated through the China Center for International Educational Exchange and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. UW-Eau Claire is one of 18 U.S. universities selected to participate in the 1+2+1 program, through which Chinese students spend a year at a Chinese university, study at a U.S. university for two years and return to the institution in China for their final year. After completing all program requirements at both institutions, students receive bachelor's degrees from the U.S. university and the institution in China.

The remainder of Chinese students at UW-Eau Claire have enrolled through "2+2" degree-completion programs or as independent degree-seeking students, Markgraf said. UW-Eau Claire currently partners with five Chinese universities to offer "2+2" programs to Chinese students who, upon completion of their first two years of undergraduate study in China, attend UW-Eau Claire to complete their bachelor's degrees.

Additional Chinese students learn about UW-Eau Claire from its staff who attend college fairs in China and through regional agencies in China that assist families of students there who wish to study in the United States. UW-Eau Claire has stepped up its efforts to strengthen relationships with these agencies, Markgraf said.

Increased recruitment of students from China is part of UW-Eau Claire's efforts toward its strategic goal of accelerating global learning, part of which includes growing the number of international students on campus. In 2009 the university established a goal to double its number of international students by 2014.

"The people-to-people diplomacy that exists when students spend time in other countries is invaluable to their understanding of us and us of them," Levin-Stankevich said. "An understanding of foreign cultures is essential to American security, as communications often lose much in translation and must be understood in the context of the culture."

In addition to boosting the recruitment of Chinese students, UW-Eau Claire's connections with Jinan and 12 to 15 additional Chinese universities have resulted in faculty exchange programs, Markgraf said, noting that more than 150 Jinan faculty members have visited UW-Eau Claire and approximately 50 UW-Eau Claire faculty have visited Jinan. Two to three UW-Eau Claire faculty members travel to Chinese universities each summer to pursue their research interests and enhance their teaching, Markgraf said.



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