Yudof reinforces ties across the Pacific

by Ada Simanduyeva

After two hectic weeks, six hotels, the same number of universities and numerous handshakes and banquets, University President Mark Yudof has returned to campus with a slew of new contracts with Chinese universities.
The trip, begun on June 19, brought Yudof and his entourage to several cities in China and Taiwan.
“I enjoyed it, it wasn’t restful but it was culturally fascinating and I think we’ve established even stronger ties,” Yudof said.
The highlight of the trip was the signing of the Executive MBA joint degree program with Zhongshan University, one of the four best business schools in China.
Yudof was also showered with personal honors, including an honorary professorship at the Fourth Military Medical University. Some people began to worry, joked the president, because they “are afraid that I would be practicing medicine and as a lawyer; that’s really scary.”
The two major topics topping the agenda were law and agriculture. Yudof said China is in bad need of law, such as intellectual property law, commercial law and contract law, now that the country moves forward in a capitalistic model of production.
“There are a lot of things we do in our college of agriculture which are very much sought after in China,” said Yudof. While in Beijing, Yudof met Chinese vice-premier Li Lanqing, who was the influential force behind the establishment of the new Northwest University for Agriculture and Technology. Li’s former professor, Jin Shanbao, was educated at the University of Minnesota.
Charles Muscoplat, the dean of the College of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences, was on hand to discuss with his Chinese counterparts possible future cooperations in such areas as water preservation to genetically modified crops.
Cultural experiences
Yudof was accorded a presidential honor when Mayor Feng Xuchu of Xi’an, the city of terra cotta warriors, presented Yudof with a City Gate Key. Yudof was the second guest to be so honored after President Clinton.
Among the various “cultural shocks” he experienced, Yudof cited the menu of a formal banquet, which included scorpions, camel meat, and octopus. He also took some pictures of himself draped in emperor’s clothes.
One possible follow-up to the trip is a loan exhibit of the world-famous terra cotta soldiers at the Weisman Museum. And even some chubby pandas.
University alumni in China
“This is a very important trip for the President to take, because our alumni in China and Taiwan are longing for his visit,” said David Pui, distinguished McKnight professor of mechanical engineering, who organized the trip.
Margaret Carlson, Executive Director of the University Alumni Association, hosted several alumni receptions in Beijing, Xian and Taipei.
Carlson said there were many “stand out” moments during the trip, including when alumni in Beijing arranged for a 150th birthday cake for the University’s Sesquicentennial and a Fourth of July cake in Taipei.
“Although these alumni live halfway round the world, with a 13-hour time difference from campus, and many of them having left campus a half-century ago, boy, the fires of loyalty and pride still burn brightly,” Carlson said.
“When the University goes to the state Legislature, we need to tell these stories to illustrate just how broad is the University’s impact,” Carlson said. “This University changes people’s lives, and these people go on to change the world.”