A delegation from Illinois State University led by President Larry Dietz visited two partner universities—Shanghai Normal University Tianhua College (Tianhua College) and Southwest University (SWU)—in China from October 24–28. The delegation consisted of the president, first lady Marlene Dietz, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education Jonathan Rosenthal, College of Fine Arts Dean Jean Miller, School of Art Director Mike Wille, and Office of International Studies and Programs Associate Director Yimin Wang.

At Tianhua College, the delegation met with 60 students that have been recruited for a new 3+1 graphic design transfer program jointly established by Illinois State and Tianhua College in 2017. Thanks to careful course mapping and advance planning, these 60 students will complete their first three years of coursework in China, and then transfer to Illinois State to complete the last 36 credit hours of their program. A portion of the classes conducted at Tianhua College will be taught by Illinois State faculty visiting China.

President Dietz’s delegation participated in an opening ceremony for this program, which was hosted by Tianhua College and broadcast live on the Shanghai Education TV Station.

“To be greeted by 60 Chinese students wearing ISU Redbird T-shirts made quite an impression,” Rosenthal said. “I look forward to the continued success of this program and the opportunity to explore additional collaborations between Tianhua College and ISU.”

The delegation also visited Southwest University in Chongqing, China. Southwest University signed an official memorandum of understanding regarding collaboration with Illinois State in October 2016 when a delegation from SWU, including SWU President Weiguo Zhang, visited Illinois State. In 2017 SWU sent more than 90 students and faculty members to Illinois State for short-term cultural immersion training programs.

These programs also resulted in the initiation of multiple long-term collaboration projects, which included two official agreements signed by President Dietz while on-site at Southwest University during this October visit. The first of these two agreements enables Illinois State’s departments of Agriculture and Geography, Geology, and the Environment to accept qualified visiting students from SWU. The second agreement allows SWU to send 25 faculty members to Illinois State for a bilingual faculty development program that will start in January 2018.

“We truly enjoyed meeting, teaching, and engaging with all of the SWU students who have visited ISU,” Rosenthal said. “We just learned that around 100 students signed up for ISU’s 2018 Spring Cultural Immersion Training Program. We are excited to have the opportunities to interact and educate more SWU students. We are in the process of preparing quality programs for the students and faculty who will soon be arriving at ISU.”

The relationship between Illinois State and these two universities continues to expand. After this recent visit, Tianhua College has proposed expanding the scope of its collaboration to several areas beyond graphic design. SWU has proposed to send visiting students in several additional departments. Illinois State is developing a new study abroad program for Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) students where they will collaborate with SWU students to create joint artwork and then also participate in an exhibition of the results of this collaborative work in Chongqing in the summer of 2018.

“The relationships between Illinois State University and these two distinguished Chinese institutions help to advance our international initiative and our value of diversity,” said President Dietz.

For more information about these initiatives, call the Office of International Studies and Programs at (309) 438-5276.