UC Merced Strengthening Chinese Partnership with Visit

MERCED - Several members of the UC Merced faculty, including Chancellor Carol Tomlinson-Keasey, are heading to the Far East this week to participate in an education conference and strengthen ties with Chinese partner universities and national parks.

The trip is part of the 10+10 Program, a concerted effort for the University of California's 10 campuses to partner with 10 prominent Chinese research universities. The goal is to increase research, education and faculty and student exchanges.

Most of the participants in this week's trip, including Tomlinson-Keasey; Samuel Traina, the acting dean of graduate studies, vice chancellor for research and director of the Sierra Nevada Research Institute; and Martha Conklin, an engineering professor, will leave California on Aug. 24, fly to Hong Kong and then on to Chengdu, the capital of the Sichuan Province in southwest China. The chancellor will return to California before her last day as chancellor at UC Merced, Aug. 31.

The visit was organized by the UC Office of the President. UC President Robert Dynes, UC Santa Barbara Chancellor Henry Yang, UC Merced Provost Keith Alley and UC Merced Professor Ruth Mostern are among those taking part.

Participants will also help celebrate Sichuan University's 110th anniversary, which will include a visit from the Chinese Minister of Education, and participate in an educational conference. Other universities involved with the conference include University of Paris X, University of Glasgow, Bremen University of Applied Sciences, Beijing University and Arizona State, which is co-sponsoring the conference with Sichuan University.

Tomlinson-Keasey has been to Sichuan University before. Last spring, she visited during the initial stages of 10+10.

"The 10+10 Program helps further our goals of global interaction and learning," Tomlinson-Keasey said. "There are endless partnership possibilities involved with Sichuan University, whether it is working on hydrological issues, solar energy or historical irrigation systems. We are beginning to cement those directions with faculty interactions on specific research projects, and we now have graduate students who can work easily in either culture, helping facilitate that cooperation."

Tomlinson-Keasey toured Jiuzhaigou National Nature Reserve during her springtime trip, and that park will play a large role in this trip, too. After the chancellor's return to California, Traina, Alley, Conklin and Yosemite National Park Superintendent Mike Tollefson will branch off after the conference to visit Jiuzhaigou. The Chinese are interested in how Yosemite is managed, from tourism to conservation. Jiuzhaigou only began receiving visitors in 1984, yet now sees almost 2 million tourists a year.

The two parks share some traits, including terrain, hydrology and being home to or having been home to indigenous people. Traina said this visit will help strengthen a four-way partnership between UC Merced, its faculty, Yosemite and Jiuzhaigou to further examine environmental and resource issues.

"There are a lot of areas where we all can learn from interaction," Traina said. "We're two different cultures facing the same issues. There's a real value in comparative studies, because they help us understand each park better."

People can learn more about the trip by following Traina's postings on his blog page. He will take pictures and write about his two weeks in China, and his postings will update as often as possible.

"I'm excited about going to China and seeing this ancient culture," Traina said. "It'll be an amazing trip."

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