October Trip Firms Up Taiwan Relationship

University-wide group visited Taiwan, signed a cooperative agreement

(Left to right): Claire Tao, executive manager for Asia-Pacific Affairs; Helen Chang, Ministry of Education; Tamra Johnson, UCR’s associate director of International Relations with the Graduate School of Management; Kelechi Kalu, UCR vice provost of International Affairs; Paul D’Anieri, UCR executive vice chancellor and provost; Shu-Heng Chen, vice president; Shari Shang, associate dean, College of Commerce; Shing-Yuan Sheng, professor and chair of the Department of Political Science; Whei-Ming Chou, dean of the College of Liberal Arts; Bai-Ku Wei, associate professor and chair of the Graduate Institute of Russian Studies; Ray Wang, assistant professor of the Graduate Institute of East Asian Studies (UCR Alumnus). courtesy ucr international affairs

It’s not that the University of California, Riverside, hasn’t sent a team to Taiwan. A UCR business school contingent visited just this past year.

But Kelechi Kalu wanted the university to return from its recent trip with an unmistakable notch in the win column. That win, to Kalu, is a greater collaboration with universities in Taiwan, the “co-location” of joint research facilities, and more Taiwanese students and visiting scholars studying at UCR.

On Sunday, Oct. 16, Kalu – UCR’s vice provost of International Affairs – led a group of five that also included Provost Paul D’Anieri on a six-day trip to Taiwan. The trip came at the invitation of the Taiwanese Ministry of Education. It’s one of UCR’s first university-wide international trips.

“A key part of our internationalization efforts is finding ways we can work with universities and industry to establish a joint research center – co-located in Riverside and in Taipei.  In that sense, our goal was to begin the process of activating UCR alumni associations in different parts of the world,” Kalu said. “The event in Taipei, which was well received by over 40 alumni that made it to the reception, helped to advance our internationalization goals.”

The UCR group visited seven universities, met with officials from the ministries of education, science and technology and economic affairs.

Provost D’Anieri delivered a keynote speech on “Facing the Transformation of Higher Education in the 21st Century” under the auspices of the Ministry of Education in Tainan City.  In addition to visiting Academic Sinica institutions and units, Associate Professor Chia-en Chang, a member of our delegation, delivered a talk on “Computer-aided Drug Discovery and Enzyme Nanostructure Design”.  And, at the Alumni Reception, School of Business Adjunct Professor Christopher Thornberg presented a talk on “Economic Trends and Collaborative Business Opportunities in Southern California.”

Tamra Johnson, associate director of International Relations for the UCR School of Business Administration, said the Oct. 22 alumni reception was “a great opportunity to continue cultivating and reconnecting with UCR’s international alumni in Taiwan.”

“We hope to inspire our alumni to engage with UCR in new ways through philanthropy, assisting current students with jobs and internships, and helping to promote UCR on a global platform,” said Johnson, who will travel with the delegation on the trip.

Yu-Ping Lien, director of the General Department of Investment Services, Ministry of Economic Affairs, and Paul D'Anieri, UCR's executive vice chancellor and provost, show the signed MOU. courtesy International Affairs

Yu-Ping Lien, director of the General Department of Investment Services, Ministry of Economic Affairs, and Paul D’Anieri, UCR’s executive vice chancellor and provost, show the signed MOU.
courtesy International Affairs

UCR also inked a Memorandum of Understanding, or MOU, that outlines a partnership between UCR and the Ministry of Economic Affairs. The MOU focuses on exchange activities, transnational projects, and recruitment of UCR graduates for jobs in Taiwan.

“This visit will be a wonderful opportunity to establish further links between universities in Taiwan and UCR,” said Mary Li-Ling Liang, director of the education division for the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Los Angeles. “We look forward to strengthening the partnerships and developing concrete faculty and student exchange programs.”

Liang’s office is an extension of the Taiwanese Ministry of Education, promoting international educational cooperation.

The goals reflect what’s outlined in UCR 2020: the Path to Preeminence, UCR’s strategic plan. Based on that plan, a group of more than 30 campus international affairs stakeholders identified specific international strategic goals to better position UCR as a globally influential university.

“We have had too many one-offs,” Kalu said of past UCR trips. “When relationships are built on personal connections, they help to advance international experience for individuals; however, when such relationships are institutionalized they tend to enhance international learning experiences for many of our students.”

“The challenge for UCR is not international engagement. Historically, international engagement at UCR has happened in different pockets across the campus, as faculty work with colleagues from around the world. The challenge for UCR now is connecting the dots and scaling up.”

Part of that strategy, Kalu said, is engaging with international high schools toward the end of undergraduate enrollment, and bolstering UCR’s international population. The university’s 2020 plan calls for a 50 percent increase in international students within four years.

Another 2020 goal for international affairs is increasing the number of international scholars visiting UCR by about 15 percent, from 405 to 481.

The next ambitious trip for the university is a November visit to Saigon, Vietnam. That trip will include researchers from UCR who work on such topics as climate change, soil quality, and salinity and desalination. They will be joined by officials from the city of Riverside, and other Riverside educational institutions. Other recruitment targets include Malaysia, Global Africa, the Middle East, Brazil, and Thailand.

In addition to Kalu, D’Anieri and Johnson, the UCR group included Christopher Thornberg, director of UCR’s Center for Economic Forecasting and Development, and Chia-en Chang, associate professor of chemistry and bioinformatics.

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