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Chinese academic delegations visit Lehigh
Dr. Fanghua Hao, Vice President of Beijing Normal University sits with Mohamed El-Aasser, vice president for international affairs at Lehigh.
Representative from two Chinese universities visited Lehigh recently to strengthen the ties between their institutions. On Nov. 27 and Dec. 3 and 4, Lehigh hosted delegations from Tongji University in Shanghai and Beijing Normal University in Beijing.

Chinese students have been attending Lehigh since the early 1900s, drawn here by the university’s engineering program and by its facilities and location. Initially, Lehigh’s proximity to Bethlehem Steel and Pennsylvania’s coal mines drew students hoping to enter China’s expanding mining operations.

Today, 250 graduate and undergraduate students from China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong are enrolled at Lehigh, and the university hopes this number will increase. Furthermore, faculty members and graduate students from across Lehigh’s four colleges are involved in research with colleagues in those countries.

The goal of the recent visit by the Chinese delegations was to strengthen Lehigh’s partnership with its counterpart universities in China by increasing faculty, academic and student exchanges.

Each delegation met with administrators, deans, associate deans and 30 faculty members from the four colleges.

They discussed opportunities to work together on research, exchange of faculty and graduate students working in similar fields, joint teaching of graduate and undergraduate classes and study abroad and international internship opportunities.

It was a productive meeting that will strengthen Lehigh’s relationships in the region. Dr. Fanghua Hao, the vice president of Beijing Normal University, mentioned that she was grateful to be able to meet with so many interested Lehigh faculty, especially during such a busy time of the academic year.

Lehigh has formal ties with several other universities in China, including East China University of Science and Technology (ECUST) in Shanghai. Lehigh and ECUST are organizing an international conference titled “Stem Cell Differentiation: the Influence of Biomaterials and Biomechanics,” to be held June 3-5 in Shanghai.

Daniel Ou-Yang, professor of physics at Lehigh, is principal investigator in the collaborative project, which is being funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation.

The Chinese Bridge Project represents another way that Lehigh plans to continue the cultural exchange between China and Lehigh. It draws from the university’s three undergraduate colleges to bridge cultures and disciplines through a major academic effort.

The Bridge Project aims to recruit a cohort of students who will gain an understanding of the language, history and culture of China. In addition to the courses offered in the Asia studies program, the students will be able to immerse themselves in Chinese culture through the Shanghai Summer Program.

These visits and the involvement of faculty and students represent important steps in achieving the internationalization goals of Lehigh, says Mohamed El-Aasser, vice president for international affairs.

“We have been able to create more international opportunities for Lehigh students and faculty, as well as make Lehigh a destination for visiting scholars and international students to study,” he says.