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CSUN'S China connection: Two Decades of Academic Cooperation

Since its founding in 1958, California Store University, Northridge has had an interest in China. Students from Taiwan and Hong Kong have attended from the time the campus opened, with students from the People's Republic of China beginning to come in 1979. Over the years these students have ranked among the top foreign students at the University, in number as well as in scholastic achievement. Numerous undergraduate and graduate students, administrative interns, visiting scholars and professors have come to study, conduct research, teach and exchange ideas. Reciprocally, many CSUN administrators, faculty and students have visited, taught and studied in China.

This active bilateral exchange was prompted by CSUN's awareness of the importance of China's role in the international arena. Moreover, it was important to expand CSUN's international programs with China in view of the changing demographics in California and a growing Asian American population in higher education. 

When ten Chinese geographers visited CSUN in 1978, it was the first time that an academic delegation from China had ever come to the United States. The following year the seeds for developing CSUN's China Connection were nurtured when seventeen Chinese scholars visited the University during a month-long tour of the U.S. California State University. Northridge, Stanford and the University of California, Berkeley were the only campuses the group toured while in California. These important contacts resulted from the efforts of several CSUN professors with strong ties to China. Two years later, in 1981. President Cleary led a CSUN delegation of seventeen professors and administrators to China for meetings with university and government officials to establish faculty and student exchange programs. This trip produced the first formal agreements with educational institutions in China. Known as a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), a separate agreement was completed with five educational facilities, marking the beginning of formal relationships which have lasted ten years.

Since then, CSUN has sponsored ten more delegations to meet with scores of academicians and officials throughout China and has sent note eighty faculty and approximately one hundred students to China, nearly fifty of whom were on its Semester-in-China Program. In turn, CSUN has hosted mote than fifty Chinese delegations, over ninety visiting scholars. and hundreds of Chinese students.

President Cleary, who led three of the delegations to China, including the first one in 1981, and one to Taiwan in 1984. has been an enthusiastic supporter of the University relations with China. Realizing the many possibilities for cultural and educational exchanges. President Cleary saw an opportunity to assist the Chinese in their efforts to expand education and to facilitate East-West understanding.