Anhui Agricultural University (AAU) and CSU significantly enhanced the range of their collaboration at an official signing ceremony Dec. 11 in Hefei, China. The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding signified the creation of a Joint Research Institute for Agricultural Extension and Economic Development. The universities also advanced discussions on dual undergraduate and graduate degrees.
One of 15 global strategic partners
In recognition of the elevated importance of the Institute and curricula and degree discussions, Jim Cooney, vice provost for International Programs, announced that AAU is one of CSU’s 15 global strategic partners for international research and scholarship initiatives. This is CSU’s highest designation for its international strategic university partnerships. Wei Gao, associate provost for China Programs stated that, “Anhui Province’s agricultural sector and higher education institutions provide an excellent fit with CSU’s China initiatives.”
The Joint Research Institute represents a new dimension for China-USA university collaborations. CSU will work with Anhui Agricultural University to expand AAU’s Extension capacity and programs. AAU currently hosts a Chinese central government rural demonstration site to develop innovations in agricultural extension, research, and rural business. CSU will partner with AAU to develop additional curriculum and training for Extension, as well as joint research and scholarship projects for rural economic and community development. The project will serve as a portal to connect CSU and its partners with other Anhui universities, local businesses, and agricultural extension in the region.
Developing exchange programs
The two universities will develop exchange programs for faculty and Extension personnel. Anhui Province is predominantly agricultural, and is one of only six of 34 Chinese provinces that is a net agriculture exporter within China, and contributes significantly to China’s global position as a net food exporter. Zuowen Yao, AAU vice president for International Affairs, and Lou Swanson, CSU vice president for Engagement, are the co-directors of the new Institute.
The two universities also discussed the expansion of their “2+2” undergraduate degree agreements and the potential for “2+3” curricula, which would provide the opportunity for a student’s progression from completion of an undergraduate degree onto completion of a master’s degree.
“There are multiple ways that CSU departments can be involved,” said Mike Palmquist, associate provost for Instructional Innovation. “Bachelor’s and master’s-level programs can work directly with students at AAU, in the same manner as with other Chinese universities. There may also be a role for workforce training and development through badging training delivered by CSU OnlinePlus.”
Attendees and CSU delegates
The formal signing was attended by Yi Cheng, general director, Anhui Provincial Department of Education, and Xiaochun Wan, chairman of the University Board. Representatives from AAU included Beiju Cheng, AAU University President; Tao Xia, vice president for Research; Zuowen Yao, vice president for International Affairs; and Chengxiang Zhang, director of the New Rural Area Development Institute.
CSU delegates included Jim Cooney, vice provost for International Programs; Lou Swanson, vice president for Engagement and director of CSU Extension; Wei Gao, associate provost for China Programs and professor of Ecosystem Science, and Mike Palmquist, associate provost for Instructional Innovation and director of CSU OnlinePlus.