Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Educational reform in China is topic of leadership forum lecture

The campus community is invited to hear an update on efforts to reform Chinese higher education, during one presentation of the Michigan-China University Leadership Forum, now in its fifth year.


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Learn more about President Mary Sue Coleman's China Initiative.

The two-week forum is part of collaboration between the university and Chinese education leaders that is intended to share best practices and foster current and future partnerships. The Chinese delegation also will visit with Michigan's governor and spend time in Chicago.

Gong Ke, head of the delegation and president of Nankai University, will present a public lecture, China's Higher Education: A New Phase of Reform and Development, at 4 p.m. May 22 in the Michigan Union Anderson Room.

Gong received his doctorate in technological science from Technical University Graz (Austria) in 1986. He was elected president of Nankai University in 2011. Prior to that, he served as vice president of Tsinghua University and president of Tianjin University.

The Ministry of Education in China began a reform of the country’s higher education system in 1995, and the work continues today. Since the reform was launched, China has received acclaim for dramatic improvement in the number of students earning college degrees, and there has been substantial improvement in Chinese elite universities.

Leaders now are focused on learning and adopting many of the principles and practices that are similar to American higher education, says Constance Cook, associate vice provost for academic affairs and executive director of the Center for Research, Learning and Teaching, which is organizing the event.

"The forum is designed to allow University of Michigan leaders to share programs and topics that reflect the nation's ideal of academic freedom and highlight higher education's best practices," Cook says. "The Chinese leaders are very eager to hear about how our universities contribute to their regions and communities; collaborate with industry and other partners, including donors; and how they hire and evaluate faculty and foster student learning."

To that end, the visitors will hear from U-M and other education leaders about topics ranging from creating a culture of learning, to encouraging student critical thinking, to promoting student mental health. University of Michigan leaders will learn about Chinese higher education as well and discuss research collaborations and study abroad opportunities for Michigan students.

The Chinese delegation of 26 leaders includes university presidents and council chairs and Ministry of Education officials, including some from the National Academy of Education Administration.

Relationships established during the forum also strengthen U-M's connections with a key country with which the university continues to establish new educational opportunities. U-M President Mary Sue Coleman led delegations to China in 2005 and 2010. Since then, U-M has established a number of collaborations with Chinese universities in research and education. One of the presentations will outline current efforts by U-M to increase communication with the country, using media channels in China.