The University of Michigan-Shanghai Jiao Tong University Joint Institute has won the prestigious Andrew Heiskell Awards for Innovation in International Education—one of the highest honors in international higher education. Dean Jun Ni of the Joint Institute will receive the award in the category for best practices in international partnerships in March, from the Institute for International Education (IIE), a New York-based nonprofit organization.
The Joint Institute (JI) was founded in 2006 as the partnership between the University of Michigan and Shanghai Jiao Tong University. It is located on the campus of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, one of China’s top universities. More than 1,000 undergraduate and 100 graduate students are currently studying mechanical or electrical and computer engineering at the JI. All courses are taught in English by 46 full-time faculty members. From the University of Michigan, more than 30 faculty members have been engaged in the JI program through teaching, course design, and research collaboration.
During the past seven and a half years, JI has developed tremendously and achieved extraordinary accomplishments, such as being recognized as a “Model for International Education in Shanghai,” a recipient of the “First-Class Award for National Education Reform,” and, most significantly, a “Model of Chinese Higher Education Reform” by Chinese Ministry of Education. JI has made major breakthroughs in building a high-caliber faculty team and creating an innovative education model. In a short time, JI has set an excellent example for Sino-American education collaborations in China by demonstrating how to establish a world-class university in China, which has made a great impact on other universities. In 2012, SJTU and University of Michigan signed a 10-year agreement on strategic collaboration, laying a solid foundation for further Sino-US education cooperation.
In early January this year, JI’s Dean Ni won the 2013 International Science and Technology Cooperation Award granted by CPC Central Committee and the State Council.“The founding of UM-SJTU Joint Institute has provided a great platform for higher education reform in the 21st century. We hope to incorporate the best components of the Chinese/American education ideas and systems into JI so we can educate the best engineers and leaders in the world,” Ni commented. “As an ambassador for Sino-American engineering education and scientific research, I hope that Chinese students are able to get world-class higher education within China without the need to go abroad. UM-SJTU JI has created the exact opportunity.”
James Holloway, U-M’s vice provost for global and engaged education, remarked that for students of the College of Engineering at U-M, the JI has been an ideal place to study and become immersed in China, a major player in the global economy. “Nearly 300 U-M students have participated in the JI program, and they consistently described the experience as transformative,” said Holloway.
On the other hand, the JI has also been an excellent channel for outstanding Chinese students to transfer to the University of Michigan through the dual-degree program.
“Over 500 Chinese students have benefitted from the dual-degree program since the JI was established, helping us develop the next generation of student leaders who will bring a global perspective to their professional work and understand the potential for Sino-US collaboration,” remarked U-M President Mary Sue Coleman.
Research is also a significant component of the partnership. “The JI partnership serves as a springboard for joint research collaborations in fields of critical interest to the U.S. and China, including renewable energy, sustainable transportation and biotechnology,” commented Holloway.
JI’s winning the Andrew Heiskell Award marks a milestone on the 10-year anniversary since China initiated international education collaboration. It signifies that the outstanding performance of SJTU and China’s education system has been recognized by the main stream of education organizations in the world. The milestone will lay a solid foundation for future China-US collaborations in education, research, and manufacturing. It will also provide excellent experience of international education collaboration for the international community.
The IIE Andrew Heiskell Awards, established in 2001, were named after Andrew Heiskell, a former chairman of Time Inc., a long-time member of the Executive Committee of IIE’s Board of Trustees, and a renowned international and cultural philanthropist. The awards are dedicated to promoting and honoring the most outstanding initiatives in international higher education conducted by the 1,200 IIENetwork member universities and colleges. The award in the category of international partnerships aims to recognize strategic, comprehensive and innovative international partnership efforts. Previous winners include Georgetown University Law Center and California Institute of Technology.
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