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• CUHK and Cambridge reaffirm
commitment to autism research
• CUHK strengthens ties with leading
• Vice-Chancellor takes part in
University of Vienna 650th anniversary celebration
• CUHK-Sussex Neuroscience
• Associate Vice-President’s visit to UK
• CUHK-MIT Joint Workshop on
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Upcoming events and incoming visits
Mr. Mark Sheldon, former Director of Academic Links, talks about the early years of the partnership under his management.
Partnership with University of California System: A cornerstone in CUHK international education
This year, the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) celebrates a significant and enduring partnership; the collaboration between CUHK and the University of California (UC) System, Education Abroad Program (EAP) formed 50 years ago. I believe this partnership has been a bedrock, a foundational relationship in international education for CUHK and I am proud to be part of this relationship.
My own graduate student and professional life in Hong Kong roughly mirrors these 50 years. When in Illinois, in the heartland of America, in my beloved small liberal arts college, I knew nothing of UC. The Ivies of Yale and Harvard were “back East” and too elitist for our Midwestern sensibilities. California was a frontier too far. But, I did meet a committed and skilled public intellectual in those days, named Prof. Clark Kerr who was the first Chancellor of UC Berkeley. Little did I know that at that same time, he was a Council Member of CUHK, likely involved in the selection of CUHK’s founding Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Li Choh-ming, coming to help found a new, fledging University in Hong Kong. It can be said, clearly, that CUHK has the DNA of UC in its founding ideals and principles. Vice-Chancellor Li knew that this new institution had to be both profoundly local, rooted in Chinese language and culture, but also clearly global, with a firm commitment to internationalization. Surely, one of his very early, first steps was to seek an agreement for student and faculty exchange and faculty development, with the UC System. Speaking for all my colleagues at CUHK, we are greatly indebted to Prof. Li’s vision and for the many years of fruitful and productive collaboration between CUHK and the UC System. This has, over the years, involved the full range of student and faculty exchange, professional development and research collaboration.
When I think of these 50 years, some key leaders come to mind both at CUHK and UC. I have had the privilege to work with all our Vice-Chancellors from the very beginning, especially Prof. Charles Kao and Prof. Ambrose King. As you all know, commitment to international education, faculty and financial resources, must come from the top. Without commitments on both sides, our CUHK-UC partnership would not have endured and flourished. Prof. Kao, a Nobel Laureate for his pioneering work on optical fibre, realised this when he founded CUHK’s Office of Academic Links – both for international partnerships and for relations with many key institutions in mainland China. Prof. King knew how crucial CUHK’s bi-lingual policy was, and continued to build bridges to the Mainland, across the Taiwan Straits and globally, founding many new entities to keep CUHK’s global linkages growing and strong. These far-sighted leaders were matched on the UC side to continue our strong and creative collaboration over the years.
As I reflect on these five decades, two other key people from the UC campuses come to mind. I highlight them to illustrate the importance of dedicated faculty and talented administrators in keeping this partnership creative and effective. On the faculty side, the late Prof. Richard Baum from UCLA dedicated his career to the study of China, to the study of the Chinese Communist Party. He was a great researcher, teacher, a person who did not suffer fools lightly, a man with fierce commitments and ideals, a person with curmudgeonly temperament, very dedicated to his students. He was the kind of faculty member that all great universities must have. I was privileged to teach a seminar on the Hong Kong handover in Spring 1997 at CUHK with Prof. Baum to a group of CUHK and UC students. I am delighted to say I’m still in touch with some of those seminar students even today and that this seminar, with Prof. Richard Baum in leadership, was one of the teaching highlights of my 30+ year teaching career. Prof. Richard Baum exemplified the dedication and scholarship of so many UC faculty colleagues we have worked with over the years.
The other person I wish to honour is our dear friend and colleague, the late Dr. Peter Wollizter. Dr. Wollizter was, for many years, the key administrative staff of UCEAP working with us at CUHK. He was experienced, sensitive, well-prepared, and willing to see issues from all sides in a very pragmatic way. He was a joy to know and work with and he made our collaboration go forward. There were many issues to work out in pursuing our collaboration; problems of selection, administrative inter-face, grading, language training, and cultural adjustment. Whatever it was, Dr. Wollizter faced these issues as a true friend and colleague. He is illustrative of the many good colleagues and partners we have worked with over the years from the Education Abroad world.
Let us celebrate what the Chinese University of Hong Kong-University of California partnership has meant to Hong Kong higher education and to higher education in California and beyond in the US. It is indeed one of the significant and powerful elements to both sides in producing students for the future of the Asia-US relationship, students with greater cultural and language competencies, well-prepared to understand and engage with the peoples and nations on both sides of the Pacific.
This article is written by Mark L. Sheldon, who was the founding Director of the Office of Academic Links-International at CUHK. He also served in other posts on the CUHK campus, including Director of the Yale-China Association, Hong Kong Office based at New Asia College and the Director of the Hong Kong-America Center (Fulbright Commission) based at Chung Chi College. During this time, some 33 years, he has taught courses in CUHK’s International Asian Studies Programme, 1983 – present.
Copyright @ 2015 The Chinese University of Hong Kong