Expanding International Ties: Dean Larsen and Dr. He visit China


Dean Larsen and Associate Professor Daqing Hé visited six universities in China in October 2013. The itinerary began with a visit to the College of Electronic and Information Engineering at Tongji University in Shanghai, where mutual interests in computing research were explored with faculty. From Shanghai, Dean Larsen and Dr. Hé proceeded to Nanjing, where a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed with the Nanjing University School of Information Management and with the School of Economics and Management at the Nanjing University of Science and Technology. These two agreements launch valuable new relationships with these two major universities that are expected to include faculty and student exchange, collaborative research, and co-sponsorship of scholarly workshops and conferences. Two weeks prior to the visit to Nanjing, colleagues from the Nanjing University of Science and Technology visited Pittsburgh, and now we are pleased to be hosting Associate Professor Chengzhi Zhang, who is conducting collaborative research with Dr. Hé, for a two month visit.


From Nanjing, Dean Larsen and Dr. Hé travelled to Wuhan, where the School of Information Sciences (SIS) has an ongoing relationship with the School of Information Management at Wuhan University.  The agreement with Wuhan University includes a “3+2” program, enabling undergraduate students who have completed three years of study at Wuhan to transfer to Pitt for their fourth year (receiving their Bachelor’s degree from Wuhan), and to stay for an additional year to earn a Master’s degree from Pitt. The School of Information Management had just completed construction of its new home at the time of the visit and Dean Larsen was the first international visitor to this new facility.

Beijing was the next stop on the itinerary, with visits to the Beijing Institute of Technology (BIT) and the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications (BUPT), plus an alumni event held at the Great Leap Brewing Company. The stop at BIT included a visit with Prof. Zhendong Niu, who holds a joint faculty appointment with SIS and is a regular visitor to Pittsburgh.  Since our graduate Telecommunications and Networking program attracts students from BUPT, this visit sought to strengthen the relationship between our two schools. We discovered a mutual interest in conducting focused research-oriented workshops and special-topic summer schools.

Through the course of these six visits, relationships were established or strengthened that promise to yield productive results in the future. We envision opportunities for our faculty and students to engage more actively with colleagues in China in research and teaching in areas such as big data, information behavior, social media, and related topics.

On the return from mainland China, Dean Larsen stopped in Taipei to co-host a reception for the Taiwan Pitt Club with Dean John Keeler (GSPIA).  This event attracted about 60 alumni, 12 of whom were graduates of SIS. Yvonne Chen (SIS ’94) is the president of the Taiwan Pitt Club, and two other SIS graduates (Anna Maio, ’94, and Marty Wu, ’09) serve on the leadership team.