President Rob Huntington and Provost Dave Weininger returned earlier this month from a whirlwind trip to Tianjin, China, where they helped Tianjin Normal University -- Heidelberg’s long-time partner in international educational exchange – celebrate its 55th anniversary.
While there, Rob delivered an invited speech as part of TNU’s International Forum on the Role of the University in Culture during the Era of Globalization. Rob was one of 14 college presidents who delivered remarks and the only representative of an American university, which he described as “quite an honor.”
In all, there were about 150 participants in the forum. “We were the U.S. school, and that was very flattering,” said Rob, who was positioned next to TNU President Gao for the forum. About half of the speeches were delivered in English; for the others, participants wore headphones and listened through translators.
“I felt very uplifted for Heidelberg. Personally, it was a very exciting experience,” he said.
TNU’s anniversary celebration continued with a dinner, a theatre presentation and a tour of the university’s massive new campus, including the new 12-story library which impressed both Rob and Dave. They also had a private dinner with TNU President Gao and his senior staff and content-rich discussions about new directions for the partnership.
Among TNU’s academic exchanges, Heidelberg’s is the longest at 28 years. In that time, HU has hosted 30 academic scholars over the life of the exchange, and has sent more than 100 faculty, staff and students to TNU as part of the summer exchange.
The recent trip was highly productive. Both Rob and Dave believe it strengthened the partnership and could result in more TNU students coming to Heidelberg.
Currently, Heidelberg is hosting about a dozen graduate education students. But an untapped market may be in graduate studies in business, Dave said. TNU has a pool of business students three times that of its education students.
“We have high hopes of attracting additional TNU students into our graduate programs,” he said. “It was a very valuable trip.”