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China and Concordia University - A Summary Timeline

Concordia and its two founding institutions have a long history of relations with China, summarized in the timeline below.

The Montreal YMCA, from whose education program Sir George Williams (SGW) College emerged in 1926, takes an active role in providing leadership to establish the YMCA in China. The program there includes popular YMCA education programs in science and literature, and later sports. These ties between the Montreal Y and China continue through the 1940s.

The Montreal YMCA raises enough money to build a "Y" in Canton, China. Some time after 1910 Montreal businessman and YMCA benefactor Henry Birks funds a YMCA building in Manchuria.

Sir George Williams College welcomes its first Chinese exchange student, Chester Chen of Tientsin. He studies for a year with other SGW students under the Y's Fellowship Training Plan for upcoming YMCA managers, and while in Montreal he addresses community groups about his home country. He returns to China a "Canadian YMCA ambassador."

Dr. Y. C. Tu, another "Y" ambassador from China, delivers a lecture on Chinese culture to SGW students.

Ping Pong Diplomacy comes to Loyola College when the Chinese champion table tennis team chooses the Loyola Athletics Complex as the first stop on its North American tour.

Note: Ping pong diplomacy, which began in 1971, marked the beginning of normalization of China's international relations after the self-imposed isolation of the Cultural Revolution. Negotiations initiated by Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau in 1968 led to the agreement in October 1970 in Stockholm, that Canada and the People's Republic of China would establish diplomatic relations. Resident diplomatic missions were established in both countries in 1971.

At SGWU the History department hires China scholar Dr. Martin Singer.

Singer develops an innovative credit course for SGWU: "East Asia: Past and Present". As part of the intensive course, in April/May forty students, faculty and staff from SGW visit five Asian locales, including Canton, China. The visit is preceded by a three-week orientation period of formal lectures and assigned readings; during the trip there are seminars and assignments. This is one of the largest Western groups permitted to visit China at the time.

"East Asia: Past and Present" is offered for a second year. The orientation period is extended to three months with lectures films and assigned reading. Singer adds Peking, Nanking and Shanghai to the trip itinerary.

Singer receives a mandate from IDRC (International Development Research Center) to gather material for a report on Canada's scholarly dealings with China.

Fifty-one Concordia professors and librarians visit China. Eighty-one Chinese academics come to Concordia, either as graduate students or as visiting scholars. Concordia signs three agreements with Chinese academic institutions and enters negotiations with six others.

Singer's IDRC report is published. It concludes that Concordia is a leader among Canadian universities for contact with the People's Republic of China.

A high-level delegation from China, including senior education commissioner Huang Xinbai, visits Concordia in November to discuss establishing a joint doctoral program.

A delegation from Concordia tours 12 institutions in China and meets with the state education commission in Beijing. The delegation includes: Vice-Rector, Academic, Francis Whyte; Dean of Engineering, M.N.S. Swamy; Dean of Arts & Science, Charles Bertrand; and Martin Singer They negotiate six agreements, four of which are signed in China. The agreement with the Nanjing Institute of Technology (now Southeast University) is the first joint doctoral program (Engineering and Computer Science) between a Western nation and the People's Republic and it is highly publicized.

Francis Whyte accompanies Montreal mayor Jean Doré to China, on a mission to sign protocols involving medical, technical, academic and cultural cooperation.

The Council for Academic Co-operation is established at Concordia. Singer is appointed to lead the first internal survey of Concordia's academic relations abroad.

Singer's survey reveals that more than 68 percent of Concordians had traveled abroad for academic purposes in the previous five years and three of the top ten countries visited were in Asia.

Biology professor Elaine Newman and Chemistry professor Cooper Langford are selected to travel to China as the first participants in a joint exchange program between NSERC and its Chinese counterpart NNFC.

CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency) funds the joint-doctoral program with Southeast University for half a million dollars. This is the first-ever CIDA grant to Concordia.

Three Concordia professors - Journalism Chair Lindsay Crysler, Associate Professor of Finance Lorne Switzer, and Vice-Dean of Academic Planning Gail Valaskakis - are in China at the time of the Tiananmen Square massacres and give their accounts to various news and broadcast outlets. In the wake of the Tiananmen Square massacre, students at Concordia raise more than $2,600 for the Tiananmen Square Fund.

Lindsay Crysler and Ross Perigoe of Journalism had both visited China for extended stays - Crysler as the director of the Joint Centre for Asia-Pacific Communications Research, and Perigoe during a three-month teaching stint at the Beijing Broadcast Institute. In February they give a talk on journalism in China to Concordia's School of Community and Public Affairs.

A delegation from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) visits Concordia's Aviation Master's of Business Administration.

Martin Singer publishes a sequel to his earlier book on Sino-Canadian academic exchanges.

Concordia officials receive a delegation from China at a working breakfast at Montreal's University Club.

Concordia is one of five universities invited to send representatives to the centenary celebrations of Peking University. Rector Frederick Lowy and his wife, Mary Kay Lowy, represent Concordia at the celebrations.

Concordia administrators receive a delegation from Southeast University, Concordia's principal academic partner in China. During the visit, administrators discuss the possibility of broadening the horizons of academic co-operation beyond engineering and computer science to include subjects such as educational technology.

A group of Concordia administrators fly to Beijing to sign an agreement of academic cooperation with the Beijing Concord College of Sino-Canada. The trip includes: Arts and Science Dean Martin Singer, Engineering and Computer Science Dean Nabil Esmail, Commerce and Administration Associate-Dean Jerry Tomberlin and Aviation MBA Director Dale Doreen. While in Beijing, Singer also gives a lecture to the Chinese National Academy of Education Administrations and speaks with China's vice-minister of education, Wei Yu. Concordia also signs another memorandum of understanding with Southeast University.

Concordia administrators visit China as part of a delegation of 300 Canadians, and sign agreements with Pulp and Paper Industrial Research Institute, Beijing Concord College of Sino Canada, Academy of Chinese Traditional Opera, Hunan University, Beijing Normal University, Nanjing University, Southeast University, City University of Hong Kong, and the Beijing Film Academy. The agreement with Hunan University involves about thirty Chinese students joining the department of Building, Civil and Environmental Engineering in the upcoming academic year.

The Faculty of Fine Arts and a delegation from the Academy of Chinese Traditional Opera in Beijing reach an intention to cooperate.

Members of the Department of Cinema meet with a delegation from the Beijing Broadcast Institute to discuss academic collaboration.

A delegation from the Faculty of Fine Arts including Dean Christopher Jackson, Associate Dean Liselyn Adams, chair of cinema Catherine MacKenzie, cinema professors Peter Rist and Christopher Hinton, and Studio Art Chair PK Langshaw, visit China and sign agreements with the Academy of Chinese Traditional Opera and the Beijing Film Academy.

Dr. Ke Qin Zhang, vice-president of Yunnan University in Southwestern China, spends several weeks at Concordia as part of a "twinning" arrangement between university administrators in Canada and China. Concordia Provost Jack Lightstone travels to China on a reciprocal visit.

Liselyn Adams returns from a trip to China as part of a Quebec delegation and reports that Chinese universities are encouraging agreements in new areas, such as the sciences, teacher training, the humanities and fine arts.

Visiting Professor Lyu Suosen, a highly respected actor and the head of the National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts (NACTA)'s directing school, teaches two classes at Concordia, accompanied by four exchange students who assist him with translations and stage demonstrations. There are several public performances and demonstrations of Chinese Opera by NACTA and Concordia students. In the spring of 2009 Concordia Theatre professor Robert Reid travels to Beijing with Concordia Theatre students to teach and train at NACTA while learning Chinese.

Concordia President Judith Woodsworth is part of a delegation that visits China. The visit led by Mr. Peter Kruyt, Chair of the Canada - China Business Council, and Chairman of the Concordia Board of Governors; the group includes several premiers and business and educational leaders. Dr. Woodsworth meets with the Presidents of the Beijing and Shanghai Alumni Chapters.

Since 1979 Concordia has signed 16 different agreements with Chinese universities, though not all are currently active. In 2007-08 more than one fifth of Concordia's international students were from China.

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