Drexel Joins Philadelphia Delegation to China

Drexel representatives from a previous trip to Nankai University
During a previous visit to China Drexel's Daniela Ascarelli, assistant vice provost for International Programs and Director of the Study Abroad program, and Marcia W. Henisz, associate director of Graduate Study Abroad, met with Nankai University representatives.

Drexel University representatives are participating in a delegation to China led by Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter in an effort to raise Philadelphia's international profile, develop business opportunities and renew discussions about direct flights between the city and that country. 

Dr. Julie Mostov, vice provost for global initiatives, and Dr. Wei Sun, Albert Soffa Chair Professor in the University’s College of Engineering, will represent Drexel during the trip. On behalf of the University, Mostov will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Nankai University located in the city of Tianjin.

“Urban universities, such as Drexel and Nankai, are critical drivers of innovation and economic growth as well as key partners in building and strengthening the local and global nexus of collaboration” said Drexel President John A. Fry. “Drexel is very proud to be a part of Mayor Nutter’s delegation to Tianjin and to make our growing partnership with Nankai University a part of Philadelphia’s Sister City Program.”

In the MoU that will be signed in the presence of the mayors of Philadelphia and Tianjin, the two universities will agree to encourage the following activities based on mutual respect, equality and shared interests:

  • Collaboration in research and education in fields of mutual interest—particularly in environmental engineering and science.
  • Engagement of students and faculty in education and community service.
  • Exchange of publications and materials on research and education.
  • Joint participation of faculty and students in conferences, seminars and workshops.

In recent years, Nankai has become one of the top comprehensive research universities in China with 21 academic colleges and nearly 24,000 full-time students, including more than 10,000 postgraduates. Mathematics, chemistry, economics and history are the traditional strengths of Nankai, but the university is also growing in areas such as environmental science and engineering, ecology, life science, technology and business. In the 2011 QS World University rankings, Nankai University is ranked 11th in China.

Like Drexel University, Nankai places great importance on internationalization and is striving to accelerate this process through joint research and educational programs, which benefit students and faculty.

Fry and Mostov met with Nankai’s President Gong Ke during a June visit to Tianjin and agreed to begin to develop a sustainable, mutually beneficial partnership between the two universities, given their shared philosophies and complementary academic strengths and the Sister City relationship between Tianjin and Philadelphia. Drexel was the first university in Philadelphia to offer a Sister City scholarship to an undergraduate student from Tianjin.

“We are especially proud to build on this tradition by creating a partnership with one of China’s premier universities in Tianjin,” said Mostov. “Given the shared commitment to green technologies and environmental sustainability held by our two cities and universities, this is a win-win initiative. We hope that it will ground collaboration in research and practice reaching beyond the university laboratories and classrooms into common policies and innovative commercial endeavors, bringing prosperity as well as greater mutual understanding to both cities.”

Drexel has a long-standing research partnership in environmental engineering and science. Dr. Joseph Hughes, the dean of Drexel’s College of Engineering, was appointed as a guest professor at Nankai University in 2004. His work on environmental remediation is closely aligned with that of Nankai’s professor Wei Chen, who heads the Key Laboratory for Soil Restoration. Hughes has led several seminars at Nankai and closely follows the work of the environmental science and engineering faculty at the university. He has been invited to speak at Nankai this year and both Drexel and Nankai agree that this strong research relationship will be a cornerstone of the partnership between the universities.

Founded in 1919 by well-known educators Zhang Boling and Yan Xiu, Nankai University boasts such distinguished alumni as Zhou Enlai, the first Premier of the People’s Republic of China and the former Premier Wen Jiabao.