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June 2008 Press Release



For immediate release: June 30, 2008
Contact: Christopher Falkenhagen
Communications: (410) 260-4511

Maryland, Chinese experts participate in higher education forum

ANNAPOLIS, MD (June 30, 2008) – As part of Maryland’s Sister State program sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of State, higher education experts from Maryland and its sister province Anhui, China met last Friday in Baltimore City to discuss their successes and how to work with each other to promote a stronger cross-country relationship.

The Second Maryland-Anhui Presidents’ Forum on Higher Education was kicked off by Secretary of Higher Education James E. Lyons, Sr., his Anhui counterpart, Mr. Rongguo Zhang, First Deputy Director General Anhui Provincial Education Department, and acting-Secretary of State Dennis Schnepfe. Both Secretary Lyons and Secretary Schnepfe brought greetings from Governor Martin O’Malley and Lt. Governor Anthony Brown, saying the administration was strongly supportive of the mission and vision of the forum.

Fifteen Chinese higher education officials joined with Secretary Lyons, USM Chancellor William E. “Brit” Kirwin, Maryland Independent Colleges and University Association President Tina Bjarekull and other two-year and four-year private college and university presidents at the forum.

All discussed the challenges both countries’ higher education systems will be facing over the next few decades. The American and Chinese contingents agreed that economic and workforce development, university and technology transfer, and meeting the needs of the community were all important goals that Maryland and the Anhui province have addressed and can improve upon by working together to share successes in higher education.

Mr. Zhang began by saying that in spite of the difference between the systems of higher education in Anhui Province and Maryland, both groups of presidents and university leaders are facing the same challenges. Their mission is not to pass on knowledge, but to train students to be specialists in their respective professions. Educators also need to increase students' sense of the civic responsibility, particularly local colleges and universities. To help facilitate technology transfer, Mr. Zhang said he hopes that more business professionals will be able to join the groups' discussions in the future, aspiring for a true collaboration of business, government and universities.

Secretary Lyons acknowledged that Friday's Presidents' Forum was a positive learning experience. He, too, said he was pleasantly surprised with the similarities of opportunities facing Anhui Province's higher education professionals in the areas of economic development, community development and technology transfer. He said he believed that the two groups had identified their agenda for going forward and will consider the strengths of all as they work together.

In particular, Secretary Lyons said the Maryland Higher Education Commission needs an international focus. The Secretary concluded that he would like to involve more Maryland institutions with this initiative.




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