Agreement promotes cultural, academic exchanges with students, faculty
MURFREESBORO — Leaders of Middle Tennessee State University and Guangxi University in Nanning, China, strengthened ties Tuesday with an agreement to pursue cultural and academic exchanges between the two institutions.
MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and Guangxi University President Zhao Yanlin signed the memorandum of understanding following a roundtable discussion inside the Cope Administration Building between executives from both universities. Guangxi officials later toured campus and met with their MTSU counterparts for further discussions.
“Guangxi University is one of the top universities in China and has been designated as a key university by the central government,” McPhee said Tuesday. “Its institution is very similar to Middle Tennessee State University. We both have a major goal of internationalizing our campuses, recognizing that we live in a world without borders.”
The memorandum signing and campus visit by the Guangxi delegation followed a visit to Guangxi by McPhee in May. During the visit, McPhee and an MTSU delegation that included state Sen. Bill Ketron announced the opening of a student recruitment office at Guangxi University as part of its efforts to boost international enrollment and strengthen ties in southern China.
The office marked the university’s first overseas representative office and reflects MTSU’s growing commitment to Guangxi, an autonomous region on China’s border with Vietnam. The region is also home to the Guangxi Botanical Garden of Medicinal Plants, at which MTSU works with as a research partner and collaborator.
Through a translator, Zhao also emphasized the similarities between the universities and expressed optimism that Tuesday’s memorandum will lead to concrete initiatives being developed and implemented. Joining Zhao on the campus visit were representatives from the business, forestry, civil engineering and architecture disciplines as well as a representative from the university’s international exchange department.
“It’s very important for both of us to have these memorandums of understanding signed today,” Zhao said. “I believe this cooperation between our universities will be a win-win cooperation.”
The agreement, which will last for five years, seeks to:
- Promote institutional exchanges by inviting faculty and staff to participate in teaching and research activities, and professional development;
- Develop exchange programs, such as summer camps, in China and Rutherford County; and
- Organize symposia, conferences, short courses or programs, and meetings on educational issues or other topics of mutual interest.
The agreement can be renewed for another five years if both institutions agree.
With translation assistance from Guanping Zheng, director of the MTSU Confucius Institute, McPhee gave a PowerPoint presentation about MTSU’s academic offerings such as its widely recognized aerospace, recording industry, accounting and concrete industry management programs, to name a few. Those programs and others attract students from across the globe, he said.
“We have graduates from all over the world,” McPhee said.
Founded in 1928, Guangxi University (GU) has an enrollment of more than 24,000 students, similar to MTSU’s. Also like MTSU, most of its students are undergraduates and it is known for its wide variety of majors within its 30 colleges.
Its academic disciplines include various degree programs in Public Management; Commerce: Culture and Mass Communication; Agriculture; and Science, as well as specialties within Education, Science and Engineering.
GU boasts academic exchanges with more than 150 universities or research institutes in 35 countries or regions, including long-term relationships with Western Michigan University in the U.S.; Gifu University and Mie University in Japan; and Cambridge University in Great Britain.