In China, Levin talks internationalization with top government officials

Not even an earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale could put a halt to Yale’s ongoing internationalization efforts.

Despite the powerful quake that struck western China early Monday, University President Richard Levin arrived as scheduled in the country this week for his second foreign excursion in as many weeks.

While in China, where he has traveled frequently in recent years, Levin was scheduled to meet with a range of government officials to discuss the continuation of the University’s collaboration with the country, as well as to “explore some new opportunities,” as he put it in an e-mail message Tuesday. Levin is also scheduled to sit for a lengthy interview on the state’s main television network, China Central Television, or CCTV.

Among the briefings with government officials was a session on Thursday with China’s vice president, Xi Jinping, in Beijing.

In the meeting, Xi emphasized to Levin that China will continue to give priority to advancing education and that it sees educational exchanges as an important force in encouraging positive relations between the United States and China, according to Xinhua, China’s state-run news agency. Xi told Levin that he welcomed more exchanges and more cooperation between Yale and China, according to the agency.

In his e-mail message, Levin said he did not expect the earthquake to influence his itinerary while abroad. But the president expressed concern about the quake, which officials have estimated may have killed as many as 50,000 in what would be China’s worst natural disaster in decades.

Levin has made it a central goal of his administration to turn Yale into a global university, and he has traveled widely in recent years to help realize that aim and inspire other universities to do the same. In this school year alone, Levin’s international expeditions have included visits to England, Switzerland, Denmark and Greece, which he visited last week.

Indeed, as undergraduates have slogged through exams over the past week, Levin has racked up frequent-flier miles. His trip to Greece included several prominent speeches — at the request of the U.S. ambassador, Levin delivered two public addresses on the internationalization of the university — as well as interviews with local news media.

It was Levin’s first visit as Yale’s president to Greece, a country from which the University does not typically draw many students. Only six undergraduates hail from the nation this year, according to the Office of Institutional Research.

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