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CSUN’s China Connection

While we are working, attending class, and doing so many other things from home, our blog posts will focus on materials that have been digitized and can be accessed remotely. We’ll continue to include links to our finding aids and other information about physical access, as well.

President James Cleary and Chinese Delegation Sign Educational Exchange Agreement, 1981. Photograph by Rick ChildsIn 1978, CSUN President James W. Cleary began working on a plan to improve the campus’ international reputation. Step one; initiate an international student and teacher exchange program. As one might expect, it took several years for such a program to become firmly established. In November 1983, Cleary’s administrative assistant Kay Kellogg said, “… the program is just now becoming operational.” By this time, exchanges with China, Brazil, and Poland had occurred, and an estimated dozen students and a dozen teachers had already participated in exchanges with China.

CSUN began hosting delegations from China as early as 1979. In April 1981, Cleary led a delegation to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to identify exchange opportunities between CSUN and universities and technical institutes in China. As a result, in July 1981, just three months later, CSUN faculty, students, and members of the community participated in a six-week Chinese-language program at Jinan University. In addition to language lessons, participants engaged in lectures on Chinese culture, art, history, and geography. Additionally, they were treated to sightseeing in Guangzhou province, home to Jinan University.

This delegation returned to CSUN with signed preliminary agreements from three Chinese institutions, Jinan University in Guangzhou (Canton), Beijing (Peking) Institute of Technology, and Harbin Institute of Technology. They also returned with educational materials and Chinese artifacts, like this one, that were gifts to the University. Reciprocal visits by Chinese educators occurred in 1984, including a six-day visit that included trips to CSUN’s audio-visual center and computer center as well as to Universal Studios and Disneyland. 

Another delegation to China in 1988 led to Cleary signing an agreement in which 30 CSUN students would travel to and study at Shaanxi Teachers University (STU,) focusing on Chinese history and geography in the spring of 1989. In addition, the CSUN Women’s Volleyball team traveled to China to play a series of exhibition games against several university squads. The 17-day, 4-city tour included four matches; Shanghai Teachers University, Shannxi Teachers University, Harbin Normal University, and the Chinese National team at Beijing Technical Institute. Lady Matators Volleyball returned to China in the summer of 2000, with a three-city tour. 

The China Institute was established at CSUN in 1982 to “serve as an academic and cultural activity center relating to China,” and it continues to do so. For over 40 years, CSUN has cultivated relationships with educational institutions throughout China. These ties continue. A quick look through the China Institute’s webpage provides information on grants and scholarships for both faculty and students. The former are encouraged to “start a project in their discipline that researches on some China-related issues or promotes long-term exchange and collaboration with some Chinese universities.” The latter is presented with funding options to pay for their year abroad.  

CSUN has had long-standing and varied partners in Chinese academia for decades, but don’t think that’s the only international opportunity to be found in the university’s history. CSUN has also collaborated with universities in Russia, Poland, and Brazil to name but a few.

“Cleary to visit China, help arrange exchange program,” Daily Sundial, March 5, 1981
“Lady Matadors to play in China, but not for tea,” Daily Sundial, April 19, 1989
Commemorative medallion and stand -- Nanjing University of Science and Technology. Photograph by John DuBois
1989 Women's Volleyball program, "Excellence in the Eighties"
Chinese Ambassador Chai Zemin and James Cleary, November 1980

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