May 20, 2010
China Agricultural University
Today featured a meeting with the leadership of China Agricultural University and a tour of the East and West campuses and laboratory facilities.
CAU is China's premier agricultural school. It was formed in 1995 with the merger of Beijing Agricultural University and Beijing Agricultural Engineering University. CAU consists of 13 colleges with academic offerings ranging from agriculture and life science to computer science to social sciences. Enrollment includes 15,891 undergraduate and more than 5,400 postgraduate students. The faculty roster numbers almost 1,400.
By comparison, Purdue's College of Agriculture comprises 11 academic departments, 2,575 undergraduate and 579 postgraduate students, and 311 faculty members.
The Purdue delegation was met by CAU University Council Chairman Qu Zhenyuan and President Ke Bingsheng, who share governance of CAU. Ke spoke of the importance of the Purdue-CAU collaboration, hope for future projects and the enthusiasm at CAU for the Purdue Day celebration they are holding Friday (May 21).
A highlight of Purdue Day will be a presidential symposium on global food security, with remarks by Purdue's first World Food Prize winner Phil Nelson and He Kang, China's 1993 World Food Prize winner. Nelson won the 2007 prize for developing aseptic processing of food for long-term storage and transportation. China's former minister of agriculture, He won for making the country self-sufficient in food production.
The student exchange efforts will be featured as well. The celebration will include 19 American students studying in China this summer, parents of CAU students at Purdue and Purdue alumni in China.
"Education has been a major focus for Purdue and CAU," Ke said. "In 2005, Dr. Ray Bressan (Purdue professor of horticulture and landscape architecture) sponsored five undergraduate students from CAU to study at Purdue as a part of a transfer student agreement. This number has grown steadily over the years, and this year 47 undergraduate transfer students are seeking admission at Purdue. This increasing number reflects the value of Purdue education to those at CAU and the effort Purdue has put into establishing an outstanding reputation among students from CAU."
Córdova responded with the challenge facing both universities.
"It's important that we work together to meet global challenges of food security and food safety. Our charge is to help find more ways to feed the world," she said.
Researching the Future
Córdova also described the importance of faculty connection and creating opportunities for faculty to get to know each other, to author journal articles together, seek support from both countries to address those challenges, and create more opportunities for students.
CAU 2+2 is the popular name given to a unique student exchange program that has proven to be very popular with Chinese agricultural students. The program recruits CAU students to study two years at CAU and two years at Purdue. CAU students who complete their studies at Purdue earn degrees from both universities.
This academic year, 46 CAU undergraduate students studied at Purdue.
"If you look at the CAU transfer students, they are some of the most well-qualified students coming to Purdue," said Ragu Raghothama, associate director of Purdue International Programs in Agriculture. "They are increasing the cultural experience of American students in the classroom and contributing to the quality of the classroom environment and scholarship."
"They are probably some of the best Purdue alumni that we're building as we move forward," he said. "They are the effective connections that we have in China today and into the future. Ten years down the road, they will be playing leadership roles in one way or another - in industry, government or universities. They will be the best friends of Purdue in China. We're already seeing that from earlier connections and contacts of alumni."
Jing Hao, a CAU senior agricultural economics major from Inner Mongolia, China, said her college education has been greatly enhanced by studying at Purdue.
"The academic resources here are very abundant and the professors are very easy to talk to," she said. "The people are very open and nice. They've helped me gain a better idea of American culture."
Observing the Formalities Informally
The meeting ended with a presidential luncheon hosted by CAU leadership at the Heyuan Restaurant CAU West Campus. Banquets in China are important for both symbolic purposes as well as for the informal social opportunities.
In addition to CAU University Council Chairman Qu Zhenyuan and President Ke Bingsheng, former CAU President Chen Zhangliang joined the lunch. Chen is a well-known plant researcher and a primary proponent of the CAU-Purdue partnership who now serves as vice governor of the Guangxi Zhuang province and is responsible for economic development, disaster response and natural resource conservation, among other duties.
A signing ceremony for a Strategic Partnership Memorandum of Understanding between the two universities is scheduled for Purdue Day, following the Presidential Symposium on Global Food Security.