Levin’s visit to China to boost Univ. profile

University President Richard Levin will meet with students in both Beijing and Shanghai next week in the latest of his many visits to China.

Levin will leave for China on Sunday to attend a conference on U.S.-China relations and a gala honoring a 16-year-old collaboration between Yale and Chinese publishers and scholars. He will also visit the Yale-in-Peking program, which was launched at Peking University in Beijing this semester.

The president will begin his five-day trip with a stop in Beijing to celebrate recent progress made in the Culture and Civilization of China project, a joint publishing endeavor between Yale and China of which seven volumes have been released since its inception in 1990. The ceremony — which will take place in the Great Hall of the People in Tiananmen Square — will recognize the publication of two books written in both English and Chinese on the formation of Chinese civilization and Chinese sculpture, respectively. Levin, Yale University Press Director John Donatich and representatives of the China International Publishing Group will speak at the event.

Donatich said the volumes are works of art themselves. The book on Chinese civilization is based on fairly recent archaeological discoveries and contains artifact images previously unseen in the West, he said.

“It’s bringing the West and China together,” he said. “We want to open up as many doors as possible.”

While in Beijing, Levin will also meet privately with senior government officials to discuss other collaborations between Yale and China, according to Donald Filer, Yale’s director of international affairs.

Levin will spend a few hours visiting the Yale-in-Peking program, where he will tour the campus and meet with students and faculty, said Charles Laughlin, the director of the program. Levin said though he has been to Peking University, the home of the program, many times in the past, he wants to speak with students in the joint program to see what changes could be made for next semester.

“Nothing is perfect on the first try,” Levin said. “I’m sure there are a number of ways we can improve the program.”

After Beijing, Levin will visit Shanghai for a conference of 50 U.S. and Chinese college students called “On Common Ground.” The conference, to be held at Fudan University, will explore how students from the two countries can better understand each other on cultural and personal levels.

Filer said the conference, where Levin will give the keynote address, is the primary reason for his trip to China. Levin’s daughter, Rebecca Levin, a senior at Stanford University, is president of the Forum for American/Chinese Exchange at Stanford, which organized the conference.

Although next week’s trip is only the latest in a long series of visits by top University officials to China, Filer said he expects the University Press celebration to garner significant media attention.

“As with all things Yale, they will get wonderful press in China because of the University’s stature,” he said.

Levin will not be the only American university president to visit China in coming days. The U.S. Department of Education announced Wednesday that Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings will lead a delegation of 12 college and university presidents to Japan, South Korea and China next week. Their trip will focus on promoting American universities to international students, according to a Department of Education press release.

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