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President Bruininks and Hong Yang on the Great Wall of China.

President Bruininks with Hong Yang, director of the U of M China Center, at the Great Wall on November 13.

The U leads in China

President Bruininks leads educators in governor's delegation

By Gayla Marty

Published November 11, 2005;
updated November 14, 2005

As U.S. International Education Week kicks off at schools and campuses across the nation, a group of Minnesota educators and students is traveling in China. They are part of Governor Tim Pawlenty's delegation of more than 200 Minnesotans from business, government, communities, and schools. Together, they seek to better understand a nation of 1.3 billion people, the fastest growing market in the world.

University of Minnesota president Robert Bruininks is heading the education section of the delegation on his second trip to China as president. The group of educators embodies the vision that Bruininks has set forth for the University as an advocate and catalyst for education across the state and for Minnesota educators in the world.

Education is a major part of China's growth. With a population more than four times as big as the United States, China's investment in education is the largest in history. And because the University of Minnesota was an early educator of Chinese scientists, it figures prominently in China's plans. Three Chinese students studied at the University in 1914, and University leaders were the first to reach out when China reopened its doors to the West in 1979. Today the University of Minnesota claims more than 8,000 Chinese alumni, the largest Chinese alumni group of any U.S. university.

Education delegation members include three K-12 superintendents--Eden Prairie, St. Louis Park, and Willmar; six leaders from Minnesota state colleges and universities--St. Cloud State U, Minnesota State U in Mankato, Alexandria Technical College, and the MnSCU administration; a private-college professor from St. John/St. Benedict; and state education officials. The Science Museum of Minnesota president and Concordia Language Villages CEO are part of the group, too.

Other University representatives in the delegation include regents David Metzen and Patricia Simmons, Institute of Technology and Law School leaders, and the vice president for research.

This year, the University's China executive MBA program was ranked the best such program in China in a survey of leading Chinese media organizations. In 2006, the University Law School's LLM will open in Beijing.

The itinerary will include Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou. Not all parts of the delegation will visit every city.

During the trip, the University's School of Public Health will formally open a credited program in health care management in Hong Kong. The next day, President Bruininks will attend the opening of the University's seventh Chinese alumni chapter in the southern city of Guangzhou.

"As China grows in economic and political importance, opportunities for Minnesota will also grow," said Pawlenty. "But Minnesota needs to see and understand these opportunities to benefit."

International Education Week activities on University of Minnesota campuses, November 14-18, 2005, are on the Web at

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