At the turn of the 20th century, Professor Woodrow Wilson said that every man sent out from a university should be a man of his nation as well as a man of his time. At the beginning of the 21st century, we can say that every person sent out from a university should be a person of the world as well as a person of his or her time.
Globalization is here, and with it, the globally connected university has arrived.
A world "flattened" by information technology has created a world without borders, rendering nearly every aspect of our lives global in nature. The grand challenges we face in the 21st century — such as climate change, renewable energy, epidemic diseases and terrorism — are global challenges.
College graduates of today must have an understanding of different cultures, languages, and international economics and politics. They must know how to live and work in a globally networked and competitive world. Therefore, higher education has to be at the forefront of globalization. A knowledge-based economy is fundamental for economic competitiveness, and a globally networked university is the underpinning of a global knowledge-based economy.
Upon becoming president of the University of Maryland last November, I was pleased to learn how far the school has already moved in this direction. In the past decade, UMD has expanded its global presence by sending more students abroad, enrolling more international students, establishing partnerships with universities abroad, and internationalizing its curriculum. As a result, UMD has become a well-recognized and well-regarded brand in many countries around the world.
About 30 UMD students go to Israel every summer, where they are paired with 30 Israeli students at Technion, a top science and technology university. Their job: In three months, they have to create a new company that commercializes the research products of that institution. They have launched several successful ventures.
UMD has developed extensive and close relationships with China over the past decade. We offer the executive MBA degree in Beijing. Our business students go to China every year to participate in an international business entrepreneurship competition. We have trained 1,500 officials from Jiangsu Province, and many are now in top government positions. Our No. 1-ranked Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice has been offering a master's program in Nanjing for 10 years. Graduates of that program now serve as chief judge of the Jiangsu Supreme Court, chief prosecutor, and other senior roles in the legal system.
Determined to expand the network of UMD-China relationships in order to advance the educational, research, and economic development missions of the university, I recently made a seven-day trip to China with Gov. Martin O'Malley. The purpose of the governor's visit was to promote China's direct investment and job creation in Maryland.
In Shanghai, Nanjing and Beijing, we met with the leadership, faculty, staff and students of seven national universities. At Shanghai Jiao Tong University, UMD physics faculty and students are doing collaborative research with their counterparts. We began planning a Joint Institute on Global Climate Change with Beijing Normal University. With officials at China Agricultural University, which features the most renowned agricultural programs in that nation, we expanded our student and faculty exchanges.
We took steps toward the establishment of joint high-tech enterprises at UMD with officials in the Ministry of Science and Technology. I signed licensing agreements with CEOs of four companies in the areas of solar energy, biotech, and water technology that will establish R&D operations in UMD's international business incubator. The first and only China R&D park outside of China is at UMD.
Governor O'Malley summarized this most productive visit to China as follows: "By reaching across borders, we can share knowledge and research, generate promising partnerships, and leverage the power of innovation to create jobs and expand opportunity to make our children winners in this changing, global economy."
I could not agree more with the governor. The real winners of our China visit will be our students and the citizens of Maryland, as UMD becomes an even more globally networked, innovative, and entrepreneurial university in service to Maryland and the nation.
Wallace D. Loh is president of the University of Maryland. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.