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Welcome Center

Tony Sipes, a worker for Felmley Dickerson Co., cleaned windows in preparation for the opening of the Minor Myers, Jr. Welcome Center at Illinois Wesleyan University. (The Pantagraph, David Proeber)

BLOOMINGTON — An exchange of faculty members from Illinois Wesleyan University and a university in China is likely within the next year, according to IWU Provost Jonathan Green.

IWU and Beijing Union University signed an agreement earlier this month to exchange faculty members and collaborate on scholarly research.

Green, who is also dean of faculty, said the visiting professors could teach a course at the other institution or do research during their visits.

No specific plans have been made for joint research. However, Green said, “BUU recently launched a center that is aimed at looking how people in other countries see China,” and that is a likely avenue of collaboration.

The agreement with Beijing Union is an outgrowth of a grant awarded to IWU in 2009 by the U.S. Department of Education to expand Asian studies on the Bloomington campus.

The two-year, nearly $162,000 grant allowed for expansion and support of courses on Asia in areas as diverse as history, religion, theater, art and business. Seeking new international ties was also part of the grant.

“Asian countries have become serious players in the international area in the 21t century and, therefore, it is imperative that we teach our students how to engage that part of the world,” said sociology professor Teodora Amoloza, who was the grant project director.

Amoloza and Green visited Beijing Union last summer. Six professors and directors from the Beijing school visited IWU Nov. 15 and 16 and met with faculty members who are on the Asian studies team of the international studies program. The agreement was signed during their visit.

The schools are also looking at the possibility of students from both universities joining short-term courses, such as IWU’s May term, according to history professor Thoms Lutze, who was an associate co-director of the grant.

Green said, “As we strive to continuously improve our preparation of students for meaningful lives in a global society, opportunities for scholar and student exchanges will become ever more important.”

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