Universities in two of the world's largest agricultural regions will collaborate on research and teaching. The UI's College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences and Jilin University's Heping Campus, located in northeastern China, signed a memorandum of understanding to develop research collaborations.
The universities plan to facilitate the movement of faculty members and graduate students between them for collaborative research and teaching, and the sharing of research data.
Robert Easter, dean of ACES and interim provost, and Wenyu Han, president of the Heping Campus, signed the agreement - four copies in Chinese and four copies in English - in a ceremony at the UI National Soybean Research Laboratory on June 24.
Jilin University is located in Changchun, the capital city of Jilin Province, which has a population of about 3 million people. The university has eight campuses in five districts, which are home to 39 colleges that span 11 academic disciplines. One of the key research universities under China's Ministry of Education, Jilin has an enrollment of about 63,000 full-time students, including 17,000 graduate students, and has 5,700 faculty members.
A delegation of several officials from Jilin University visited the UI campus for two days for the signing of the agreement, which is expected to initiate research activities in areas of mutual interest, such as crop sciences, human nutrition and biotechnology.
Easter said that he had observed the "vast capacity of that area to produce agricultural products, especially corn" during a trip to Jilin Province in 1988, and that he is impressed with the progress that the region has made since. "It is truly unfortunate that it has taken us this long to find each other," Easter added.
Han, speaking through a translator, emphasized the shared teaching and research interests that Jilin and the UI share, and said that the formal agreement would make existing collaborations more practical and broaden them to many other areas.
"We continue to recognize our global role in learning from international partner universities and hope that this signing will strengthen the movement of information to solve research problems facing Illinois stakeholders and residents of Jilin Province," said Robert Hauser, interim director of ACES Global Connect.
ACES Global Connect is an engagement initiative established in 2001 that promotes the international dimension of research, teaching and outreach activities in the college.
Among other initiatives, such as sponsoring seminars and speakers, ACES Global Connect has been helping rebuild the agricultural industry in Afghanistan by training Afghani researchers, faculty members and aid workers in the latest agricultural practices. The UI, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and The North-West Frontier Province Agricultural University in Peshawar, Pakistan, are partners in the program.
ACES Global Connect also sponsors a program for UI faculty members called ACES Academy for Global Engagement, which provides seven or eight faculty members with a yearlong series of scholarly and experiential activities in the global arena.
The types of programs to be developed with Jilin University are yet to be decided, Hauser said.
ACES has a faculty member who is an alumnus of Jilin University, and a graduate student from Jilin University is expected to enter the UI in the fall.