Photo caption: Dr. Mary Hoffman, center, interim associate vice chancellor for academic affairs and dean of graduate studies, and Yiliu Yang, Chinese program manager for UW-Eau Claire’s Center for International Education, right, participated in a commencement ceremony in China this summer for students in the dual-degree program between the university and Changshu Institute of Technology.
For the first time in four years, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire representatives this summer participated in a commencement ceremony in China for students in the dual-degree program between the university and Changshu Institute of Technology.
Dr. Mary Hoffman, interim associate vice chancellor for academic affairs and dean of graduate studies, conferred diplomas to spring and summer graduates in the dual-degree program in Beijing, China. A total of 285 students graduated from more than 50 universities in both countries during the ceremony.
“Students in the CHEPD program are an important part of our university community, so it was wonderful to celebrate with them at graduation in person,” Hoffman says. “Visits like this allow us to build connections with existing and potential partner universities in China, and to appreciate on a very small scale the challenges and opportunities our students experience in a new environment.”
Cooperation in Higher Education and Professional Development (CHEPD) is a 1+2+1 program where students from China spend their first and fourth years at their home campus, and their second and third years at UW-Eau Claire. More than 400 Chinese students in the dual-degree program have studied on UW-Eau Claire’s campus through the Center for International Education since 2007. UW-Eau Claire joined the CHEPD 1+2+1 program in 2006, partnering with China Center for International Education (CCIEE) and the Association of American State Colleges and Universities (AASCU).
“This trip was important to show our support for students, parents and partners to celebrate the graduation for the students in their home country,” says Yiliu Yang, Chinese program manager for UW-Eau Claire’s Center for International Education, who also was on the trip.
The trip reinforced the strong interest in the dual-degree program among several additional Chinese universities. UW-Eau Claire’s partner — China Center for International Education Exchange — arranged trips to the cities of Xi’an and Nan Jing, where Yang met with representatives of more than 50 Chinese universities to promote the 1+2+1 program.
Because of COVID-19, UW-Eau Claire representatives had not participated in an in-person graduation in China since 2019.
“These are the students who came to UW-Eau Claire during COVID,” says Colleen Marchwick, director of UW-Eau Claire’s Center for International Education. “They faced cultural, COVID and language challenges, and they couldn’t visit families due to travel restrictions. The fact they persisted is amazing.”
UW-Eau Claire also played a prominent role in a presidential forum before the graduation ceremony where more than 100 representatives from over 60 U.S. and Chinese institutions gathered to hear about the cooperative venture. Hoffman spoke on the theme of persistence and innovation in the Sino-U.S. educational exchanges, the importance of sharing institutions’ common interests and values, creative reciprocity, open communication and shared results.
The conference helped deepen the mutual understanding of higher education with officials at Chinese universities, Yang says.
“It’s helpful to strengthen their confidence in exchanges and cooperation, continue to develop and innovate, and constantly enrich the connotation and substance of cooperation,” Yang says. “It cultivated a return to the track of healthy and stable development in the post-pandemic era.”