A truly international research university

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A few weeks ago, I had the profound honor of representing Virginia Commonwealth University in China, a trip focused on creating and strengthening strategic partnerships with the leading universities in the world’s most populated nation.

VCU has several important partners around the globe, including notably at Fudan University in Shanghai, with which we have collaborated since 2003. It was one of VCU’s first international partnerships.

For more than a decade, our schools of Business, Engineering, World Studies; the Robertson School; the Brandcenter; and the departments of Psychology, Chemistry and History have collaborated with colleagues at Fudan in ways big and small. Our institutions have mutually benefited from collaborative research and academic programs and robust faculty and student exchange. Twenty-six students from Fudan are currently on campus for VCU’s American Studies Program, and I am excited about an innovative new collaboration between Fudan’s School of Journalism and VCU’s School of Business, in which Brandcenter faculty will teach a master’s degree program at Fudan. From what I have seen on both campuses, I am convinced that we are well-positioned to move this collaboration from good to great.

While in China, I had the chance to visit other leading universities, including Peking University, which is one of Asia’s most important research institutions, and Beijing Technology and Business University, which offers students one of the best educational experiences in China.

I also enjoyed meeting with almost 100 VCU alumni and admitted and prospective students who live, work and lead throughout China. They were excited about and proud of VCU’s growing reputation for excellence around the world, including 50 top-ranked academic programs and faculty colleagues who have won the Noble Prize, Pulitzer Prize, Guggenheim Award and nearly every other major honor in their fields. VCU is known throughout China as a global research university and a great partner in innovation around the world, as a place of great diversity and engagement and an institution that has committed to using what we discover to advance humanity around the world.

This is no surprise. Besides our work in China, we enjoy very strong connections with institutions in India, Spain and South Africa, among other nations. And, of course, VCU was the first university invited into Education City in Doha, Qatar, where we have had a satellite of our No. 1-ranked School of the Arts for more than 15 years.

We remain committed to expanding our international partnerships wherever and however we can to continue to advance Quest for Distinction.

Led by McKenna Brown, Ph.D., executive director of the Global Education Office, we are in the final stages of launching a strategic plan focused on international partnerships, which we believe will help us recruit and retain more international students and scholars, empower more VCU students and faculty to engage globally and expand our mutually beneficial research and teaching partnerships around the world.

More details about this plan will emerge in the coming academic year.

In the meantime, I look forward to working with all of you to continue to make VCU a truly international research university and a great collaborator in academic and research excellence, human health and community engagement — including our global community.

Photo from visit to China (from left): McKenna Brown, Ph.D., executive director of the Global Education Office; Chengfang Hao, VCU alumna; Monica Rao; President Michael Rao; Hong Cheng, chair of the Robertson School of Media and Culture; and Guofang Wan, professor and director of graduate studies in the School of Education.