SHANGHAI, China — Middle Tennessee State University established formal ties Friday with a university that has been crowned “China’s MIT” for its strong science, engineering and biomedical programs.
The agreement between MTSU and Shanghai Jiao Tong University will allow the exchange of faculty and students between the institutions. It will also let professors collaborate and share research.
President Sidney A. McPhee, who led an MTSU delegation that included state Senate Majority Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, signed the agreement during ceremonies on the Shanghai campus.
“Shanghai Jiao Tong University is a premier university, recognized internationally for excellence across its 29 schools and 11 institutes,” McPhee said.
“Our partnership will allow students and faculty to study, explore and collaborate on projects that benefit both institutions and our respective communities.”
The agreement was forged at one of the first stops of a seven-city tour by the MTSU delegation to create or strengthen relationships with Chinese universities. (Watch a video from the visit at http://tinyurl.com/MTSUShanghai.)
“Today we opened the door to the future for our two universities to forge significant research relationships,” said Ketron, a 1976 graduate of MTSU who represents the 13th District in the state Senate.
Founded in 1896, Shanghai Jiao Tong University offers a wide range of academic programs, with sciences as its foundation. Three of its disciplines — naval architecture and ocean engineering, mechanical engineering, and clinical medicine — are ranked No. 1 in China.
Faculty, students and alumni of Shanghai Jiao Tong have created many “firsts” in modern and contemporary Chinese and world history, including China’s first internal combustion engine, the first hovercraft and the first medical operation to reattach a severed limb.
Friday’s agreement joins the School of Life Sciences and Biotechnology at Shanghai Jiao Tong with the Tennessee Center for Botanical Medicine Research headed by Director Elliot Altman, who also is a biology professor at MTSU.
“This agreement is a starting point,” Altman said. “Universities in China like to start relationships with U.S. universities that encourage the exchange of students and collaborations between professors. There are definite possibilities here for both of our institutions.”
Xuehong Zhang, executive dean of the School of Life Sciences and Biotechnology, signed Friday’s agreement on behalf of Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Deputy Dean Zhang Dabing, who is director of the National Center for Molecular Characterization of Genetically Modified Organisms, also represented the school.
Yan Feng, director of the Department of Biosciences and Biotechnology, and Professor Dawei Li of the School of Pharmacy also attended on behalf of the Shanghai university.
After the signing ceremony, McPhee and the MTSU delegation also conferred with Huang Zhen, vice president for teaching and international affairs for the Shanghai university, on specifics on the student exchange aspects of the agreement.
Zhen said one third of his university’s undergraduate students participate in study abroad programs, a point of pride for the institution.
McPhee also spoke to about 100 Shanghai students on how to become a successful international student at an American university, using MTSU as a role model and starting point for his discussions.
— Andrew Oppmann (email@example.com)