Professor of Chinese literature and visual culture Nicole Huang was appointed to the position of director of the Wisconsin China Initiative.
Associate Professor of Law John Ohnesorge said he expects WCI to flourish with Huang as the director due to her experience with and knowledge of China.
Ohnesorge was the second director appointed to the program and held the position for four years. Currently he is the director of the Law School’s East Asian Legal Studies Center and Co-Chair of WCI. He said he supported Huang’s appointment to the position.
“Professor Huang is a very distinguished scholar and a great colleague,” Ohnesorge said.
He said WCI will thrive under Huang’s leadership and added he thinks the inititative will be in very good hands with her as director.
According to WCI Associate Director Laurie Dennis, the initiative pulls together different departments around campus and opens the lines of communication among UW faculty to help them to establish new programs or connections.
“The China Initiative’s function is to coordinate across the whole campus because we have a lot of faculty involved in China studies,” she said.
WCI also aims to help people who want to connect with China experts on campus and is in charge of handling any visiting delegations from China.
Ohnesorge noted three important goals for WCI, and he said it is likely these goals will remain as primary focus points under the direction of Huang.
Ohnesorge said the first goal calls for an increased focus on Chinese students on campus. He said WCI wants to support and expand classes on campus because the university has strong traditions with Chinese studies.
The second goal involves WCI’s efforts to reach out to the Wisconsin state government. He said WCI works to spread the knowledge of China and Chinese culture and wants to share this with the rest of the state.
Ohnesorge said the third goal includes WCI’s intentions to increase UW’s frequent contacts with China.
He said the university recently established an independent office in Shanghai, which may help to increase communication between UW and China.
Ohnesorge said WCI hopes opening the Shanghai office will increase study abroad opportunities available in China and add more faculty exchanges with the country. He also said he hopes other departments will begin to hire or continue hiring professors who specialize in Chinese studies.
Dennis said UW is greatly influenced with Chinese aspects due to the amount of staff on campus who are involved with China.
Thirty professors currently teach courses about China, and many more professors conduct research related to the country.
Dennis said on average, approximately 300 students a year choose to study Chinese as a foreign language.
Students from China also make up the largest number of international students on campus, she said.
“Our involvement with China is key,” Dennis said. “It’s a very important country for the university to interact with because of how much influence it has on campus.”