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Zoom image of the presidents of Northwestern and National Taiwan University

Northwestern University and National Taiwan University enter academic partnership

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Virtual Signing Ceremony Participants

New partnership will foster student and faculty exchanges and increase opportunities for language studies

At a virtual signing ceremony last week, officials from Northwestern and National Taiwan University sealed a new official partnership.

The two universities signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU), which will allow Northwestern and NTU to exchange faculty, increase language offerings, and allow undergraduate travel to Taiwan. The MOU was signed by Northwestern Provost Kathleen Hagerty, NTU Executive Vice President Chiapei Chou, Director General Johnson Sen Chiang of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Chicago, and Director of the Friends of Taiwan Foundation and Northwestern alumnus Jerry Lee (’97).

“This agreement builds upon decades of shared bonds between our two institutions. Our faculty have collaborated in the fields of materials science, sustainability, economics, epidemiology, and computer engineering, just to name a few disciplines,” said Hagerty in her remarks.

U.S.-Taiwan Education Initiative

This agreement is also the first official partnership in the Midwest under the new U.S.-Taiwan Education Initiative that was launched last December 2020, announced Director General Chiang. The new program, which is supported by the U.S. Department of State, aims to increase Mandarin and English language offerings and the exchange of language instructors between Taiwan and the United States. It also plans to expand to other areas, such as scientific and medical research.

Chicago Deputy Mayor for Economic and Neighborhood Development and Northwestern alumnus Samir Mayekar ('06, '13 MBA) gave opening remarks at the signing, highlighting the strong ties between Chicago and Taipei and stressing the importance of academic collaboration for a global city like Chicago. Lee and Sen Chiang also spoke before signing the agreement. Other speakers at the event included Chung-Ming Kuan, President of National Taiwan University, and Northwestern President Morton Schapiro.

President Schapiro shared his excitement about returning to Taiwan following this virtual signing ceremony, as the best way to solidify these agreements, he said, is still in person. Schapiro visited Taiwan in 2019, where he met with the Vice President of Taiwan, Chien-jen Chen, and delivered a lecture at the Taiwan Academy of Banking and Finance.

“That visit planted the seeds of our collaboration, resulting in the signing of our agreement,” said Dévora Grynspan, Northwestern’s Vice President for International Relations, who worked on the details of the agreement. “We are especially grateful for the support provided by the Friends of Taiwan Foundation and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office who have been instrumental and gracious along the way.”

National Taiwan University is a natural fit for Northwestern. As NTU President Kuan noted in his remarks, both universities not only share a deep commitment for higher education and encouraging curiosity, their academic structures are also both deeply rooted in diverse, interdisciplinary work.  

Northwestern and Taiwan

While Northwestern has always welcomed a significant number of students from Taiwan, this academic year was special. In 2020-2021, even though the pandemic paused most student mobility and international student exchange, the number of students from Taiwan enrolled at Northwestern increased. Only six locations send more students to Northwestern than Taiwan. In some fields, the numbers are even higher: In the McCormick School of Engineering and the Medill School of Journalism, Taiwan is the third largest sender. At the Feinberg School of Medicine, students from Taiwan make up one fifth of the international student population this academic year.

This agreement marks a new beginning in Northwestern’s relationship with Taiwan and establishes the official foundation for new international opportunities for Northwestern and National Taiwan University.

Memorandum of Understanding Signatories

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From top left to bottom right:

  • Chiapei Chou, Executive Vice President, National Taiwan University
  • Kathleen Hagerty, Provost, Northwestern University
  • Johnson Sen Chiang, Director General, Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Chicago
  • Jerry Lee, Director, Friends of Taiwan