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Teachers College, Columbia University
Teachers College Columbia University

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Class from China

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Class from China

Director Mun Tsang

Twenty-five presidents and vice-presidents of China's leading universities have come to the U.S. for professional development and to take part in a month-long seminar at Teachers College on quality and faculty development in higher education.

"The preparation of effective education leaders is a key challenge in Chinese education today," said TC Professor Mun Tsang, Director of the Center on Chinese Education and the organizer of the seminar. Tsang spoke at an opening reception on October 20 that included welcoming remarks by Columbia University Provost Alan Brinkley.

"The elements of academic excellence at a university are the strength of the faculty, the quality of the students, and the range of resources available to support teaching and research," Brinkley said. "Most important is the commitment of the institution to strive constantly to improve the strength of the university. To us that means never coming to the belief that we are good enough."

The day's events also included a panel discussion of the long relationship between China and both TC and Columbia. The speakers included Benjamin Liebman, Director of the Center for Chinese Legal Studies; Joanna Rubinstein, Senior Associate Dean for Institutional and Global Initiatives at Columbia University Medical Center; Xiaobo Lu, Director of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute; and Tsang.

The Chinese university leaders participating in the current seminar are divided into four study groups and are spending the remainder of their time in the U.S. looking at two main topics: improving the quality of higher education, and developing a competent teaching force for China's universities. The delegation will also do field studies of other U.S. research universities, including Harvard, Yale, MIT and the SUNY schools.

TC's ties to China extend back to the early 20th century, when Tao Xingxhi, who would become an influential educator in modern Chinese education, was a student of John Dewey at TC. Today, a significant number of TC faculty carry on work in China, in areas ranging from education leadership and privatization to early childhood education, education technology and teacher training, higher education, education policy and school reform, curriculum and ethics, and the arts. 

In addition to the seminar for Chinese university leaders, the Center on Chinese Education also organizes seminars for other Chinese education leaders including primary and secondary school principals, and education officials at various levels. "The U.S.-China relationship is a key international relationship in the 21st century," noted Tsang. "Education exchanges between institutions and people can contribute to an engaged and constructive relationship between the two countries."

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