An alliance between DePaul University and Huaqiao University in China’s Fujian Province gives DePaul an important foothold in the world’s second-largest economy and most populous nation while supporting the university’s global goals of Vision 2018.
The latest step took place in late May when a five-member delegation of Huaqiao leaders paid a two-day visit to DePaul. They met with representatives of several colleges and departments and also with the Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M., president, who led a DePaul delegation to the Chinese university’s two campuses in Xiamen and Quanzhou in December 2012.
DePaul’s China initiative is led by Professor of Management Patrick J. Murphy, who has made two trips to Huaqiao and is returning this summer to develop the alliance. Murphy, who spent two semesters at Beijing Foreign Studies University as a student and is fluent in Chinese, has used his long-standing relationships in China to help lay the groundwork for the alliance.
“The initial project entailed formal and informal vetting to assess several universities in China and detect the best one for us,” Murphy said. “Then it took time to develop the initial relationship. Now that a level of trust has been established at the highest levels on both sides, the plan is to allow linkages to form naturally. For example, our Department of Modern Languages is formulating a plan to send DePaul students to Huaqiao for a quarter, and DePaul is working toward the possibility of a joint degree for Huaqiao undergraduates to spend their sophomore and junior years at DePaul and their freshman and senior years at Huaqiao.”
GianMario Besana, associate vice president for Online Learning and Internationalization, said, “DePaul fits nicely with Huaqiao in several ways: It is similarly sized, with about 28,000 students on two campuses, and the interest in international engagement is built into its culture.” The alliance will take the form of student exchanges, faculty exchanges and shared research. It also will enhance DePaul’s presence in the People’s Republic of China.
Huaqiao’s campuses are in Xiamen and Quanzhou, which are among the most beautiful and livable cities in China.
DePaul is attractive to Huaqiao students, who value the opportunity to study in American classrooms and participate in internships with U.S. organizations. According to Murphy, such experiences at a school like DePaul in a city like Chicago prepare Chinese students for professional opportunities in China as well as the United States. Weisi Shi, a Huaqiao alumnus and a current graduate student in the College of Computing and Digital Media, agrees: “DePaul and Huaqiao are diverse universities that are connecting at the right time. I believe the cooperation will be a win-win for students on both sides.”
In September 2013, a group of Huaqiao public administration, political science and public policy faculty will come to DePaul for a range of activities, including delivering lectures, formulating joint research projects, shadowing their DePaul faculty counterparts and participating in panel discussions open to the university community.
The Huaqiao delegation that visited DePaul was led by Vice President for Academic Affairs Wu Jihuai. “We were impressed by your beautiful campuses, advanced teaching and research facilities and your kind generosity,” Wu said. “The visit gave us an opportunity to refresh our friendship and explore the possibility of enhancing and expanding our collaboration. The cooperation and exchange between Huaqiao and DePaul will prove worthwhile and rewarding for both institutions."
“Our main goal for the visit was for the Chinese to get to know us on our own turf," Besana said. "They saw the Lincoln Park and Loop campuses and really enjoyed their stay.”
Founded in 1960, Huaqiao has a strong international reputation. It serves thousands of Chinese students raised outside the mainland in such places as Macau, Hong Kong, Singapore and elsewhere in Southeast Asia. It reports directly to China’s central government, not the provincial government, which is unusual for universities outside of Beijing or Shanghai.
In May, Fr. Holtschneider presented the Chinese delegation with a crystal bowl,
engraved to commemorate the signing of the initial agreement on Dec. 21, 2012. In China at that time, Huaqiao President Yimin Jia presented Fr. Holtschneider a scroll featuring the Chinese character for "good fortune" written 100 different ways, reflecting the many evolutionary steps of that character over the millennia and the promise of a fruitful alliance between the two universities. The scroll now hangs in Fr. Holtschneider’s Loop office.