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Mount Union?s Assistant to the President for Diversity Affairs, Dr. William Coleman, returns from China

December 8, 2006

Dr. William Coleman, assistant to the president for diversity affairs, recently returned from a three-week trip to China.

Pictured (L-R): Dr. Liangwu Yin and Dr. William Coleman

Coleman's trip was for the purpose of exploring possible connections to Chinese institutions of higher learning. These possible connections include student and faculty exchanges, collaborative research, guest lectures, cultural workshops, summer programs and study tours.

Coleman said the two institutions that look promising are Northeast Normal University in Changchun City, Jilin Province, about 90 minutes by plane from Beijing, and Hefei University in Hefei, Anhui Province, about 2 hours from Beijing.

'I met with vice-presidents, deans, department chairs, undergraduate and graduate students at both institutions,' said Coleman. 'I also had extensive tours of campuses.'

Coleman said in the next couple of weeks he will be talking with President Giese, the President's Council and others about the feasibility of developing specific programs with one or both of these institutions.

Coleman said the reason for his trip was to try to get Mount Union College to have a tie to China, seeing as it is probably the second most powerful country in the world, second to the U.S., in terms of economics, military and impact on world events.

'As an educational institution, we must create an educational environment with much more of a Chinese presence,' Coleman said. 'This means offering a Chinese language major or minor, developing more courses in the curriculum related directly to China, and establishing student/faculty exchanges between Mount Union and Chinese universities.'

To expand Mount Union's interaction with China, Coleman has developed an Asian Initiative, with its main objective being to target Asia, especially Japan and China, with a comprehensive educational program. The initiative includes collaborative research, summer language and cultural workshops, internships, guest lectures and joint conferences.

'Our college mission statement mentions the importance of helping our students understand and live in a multicultural, multinational world,' Coleman said. 'Thus, we must expand our Asian efforts both in the curriculum and programmatically.'

While in China, Coleman lectured to a modern Chinese history class at Beijing University on contemporary Sino-American relationships, and to 150 freshman and sophomore English majors at Hefei University on intercultural communication between Americans and Chinese.

'I was the first American professor they had ever seen or heard from,' Coleman said.

Coleman said he spent some time traveling with Dr. Yin of Mount Union's Department of History, who is on a sabbatical leave this semester and is teaching at Beijing University.

'I visited the Great Wall, Forbidden City, Tineman Square, and Yellow Mountain among other tourist sites,' Coleman said. 'I spent time in both cities and the countryside.'

Coleman said when he traveled alone and needed assistance or did not understand something, someone would always come to his aid and help him.

'The people were wonderful and very understanding of this foreigner and very friendly,' Coleman said.

Coleman said he is excited about his next trip to China, on which he will be accompanied by President Giese. Coleman said that upon their return, they hope to solidify the relationships with the universities' administration.

'I'm looking forward to a return visit, even if the flight from Chicago to Beijing is 13.5 hours nonstop.' Coleman said.

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