Indiana State University Newsroom



ISU and LU review, reaffirm relationship

September 22, 2008

SHENYANG, China - Officials with Indiana State University and Liaoning University reviewed the relationship between the two schools and spoke of a stronger one in the future.

On the day of the Chinese university's 60th anniversary celebration, Mike Alley, president of the ISU board of trustees, and Cheng Wei, president of Liaoning University, discussed the relationship.

"Our two universities, our faculty and staff have come closer together this week," Alley said during a meeting on Sept. 16. "This being my first visit, it opened my eyes to what Liaoning University has accomplished in 60 years and certainly the amazing things in the last three years with the new campus. Through the conference, we gained much better knowledge of how our students can interact with Liaoning University students as well as how our faculty can interact with your faculty."

A delegation of ISU faculty, students and Indiana business members journeyed to Shenyang, China, for a conference on "Bridging China and America: A Forum on Sino-U.S. Economic Relations and Regional Development in Liaoning and Indiana," which was held Sept. 14. They then stayed to help Liaoning University celebrate its 60th anniversary.

Alley then said he hoped the bond would grow stronger between the two universities during the years to come.

"We look forward to also expanding our relationship with Liaoning University and continuing to have the interaction grow each year so that our friendship and our bond may become stronger," he said.

Cheng agreed.

"What I wish is that the visit by your delegation will take the relationship to a higher level between Indiana State University and Liaoning University and between Indiana and Liaoning Province," he said.

Cheng added that the successful conference increased communication and friendship between the participants, but that it also had other benefits as well.

"There is the influence on the students who participated in this kind of high-end forum, that they could discuss U.S.-Sino problems with scholars and entrepreneurial businessmen," he said. "It will be very important for them in their own career and as they march to the world in the future."

Lloyd W. Benjamin III, former ISU president, spoke on "The Role of the University in Social Development and Public Diplomacy" during a presidential forum, which was held as part of the celebration.

"The relationship of Indiana State University with our international partners is based upon the belief that people-to-people contacts and exchanges are mutually beneficial," Benjamin said during his speech. "Through exchanges, we have brought our entire institutions to bear upon the relationship in an environment of mutual respect and trust."

In the relationship between the two universities, Benjamin said that officials looked beyond academia into the communities.

"At ISU, we have viewed our relationship with Liaoning University as one of equals expressing to each other what needs and expertise we have to serve our relationship, but also to serve the communities where we are located and to be partners in the cultural, social and economic development of the countries," he said.

Throughout the two universities formal 18-year relationship, they have exchanged faculty and Chinese students have come to ISU. ISU's first student is scheduled to enroll at Liaoning University in the spring.

Several Chinese economics professors have been Fulbright Scholars at ISU, and John Conant, chair of the ISU economics department, said he has worked with Liaoning's faculty for 10 years.

"To be a part of their celebration is certainly a personal joy," he said. "I have a lot of friends here."

As he learned more about Liaoning University's history during the celebration, Conant said he understood it more.

"There's been a great deal of change, institutional change with the revolution, cultural revolution and opening up," he said.

In recounting the university's history, Cheng spoke about a difficulty that American universities have not encountered.

"The 10 year Cultural Revolution shattered the serenity of life on the campus," he said. "Even though teaching and learning came to a screeching halt, the teachers remained steadfastly committed to their academic faith. Some of them never gave up their books and hopes, unwavering in their pursuit of truth, remaining rational and realistic. Learning continued unabated in humble cottages; research was carried out on farmland. These dedicated individuals meditated on the future of education in China just as the whole country was going crazy with making steel."

Eventually, the professors and students returned to the classroom, and then in 1978 China began once again opening its doors to the world. The university in China also opened its doors to the world. About 20 years ago, Liaoning University and ISU began a relationship, which was then made formal.

"We firmly hold that spreading knowledge is the vocation of a university, creating knowledge is the responsibility of a university, serving society is the obligation of a university and maintaining a global perspective is the mission of a university," Cheng said. "The unity of vocation, responsibility, obligation and mission all at once the basis of our persistent pursuit of the spirit of university to which we will continue to devote our lives."

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Writer: Jennifer Sicking, Indiana State University, assistant director of media relations, at jsicking@indstate.edu or 812-237-7972.

Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/photos/377937388_3mFTS-D.jpg

Cutline: Mike Alley, president of Indiana State University's Board of Trustees, meets with Liaoning University President Cheng Wei. ISU Photo/Tony Campbell

Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/photos/377937628_oSTN2-D.jpg

Cutline: A performance during the 60th anniversary celebration at Liaoning University in Shenyang, China. ISU Photo/Tony Campbell