Dan Curran, president emeritus of the University of Dayton and an independent board member for Fuyao Glass America, isn’t the retiring type. THOMAS GNAU/STAFF

Fuyao and UD unite for new course

The chairman of Fuyao Global has given a group of University of Dayton (UD) students a challenge and an opportunity: Come study some of China’s waterways, exploring ways to improve them.

“It’s an amazing opportunity,” said Leslie King, director of UD’s River Institute, an organization that seeks to protect the area’s Great Miami River watershed.

The course will begin in Dayton and end on the waterways of China. Called “Socio-Economic Change in China: A Case Study of Suzhou and its Waters,” the course is a collaboration between UD and Fuyao.

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Nine UD students will leave for a three-week visit to China May 11. They will be based at UD’s China Institute in the Suzhou Industrial Park and will visit Suzhou’s ancient Grand Canal, Tai Lake in Wuxi, the Jujiangyan Irrigation System in Chengdu province, and the Yangtze River’s Three Gorges Dam.

Pollution in China has been recognized as a severe problem, and the nation has taken steps to combat it. As recently as December, smog levels in China forced 32 cities to post “red alerts.”

“The river system here (in Dayton) is really clean,” Fuyao Global Chairman Cho Tak Wong told a group of UD students Wednesday. “One reason is, you have far less population.”

“The chairman is very aware of environmental issues,” said Dan Curran, UD president emeritus and an independent board member of Fuyao Glass America. “This is a continuation of the relationship between the University of Dayton and Fuyao.”

That relationship goes back to shortly after Cho bought a former General Motors plant in Moraine in 2014 to remake it into an auto glass plant. Fuyao gave UD $7 million in early 2015, to support its China Institute and cement a long-term partnership.

“We want to use all our power to change the world and to make good change,” Cho said through an interpreter Wednesday. “We are coming here in the Dayton area not only for money.”

“We would like to make profits,” he added. “However, we don’t want to make profits at the price of contaminating the environment.”

Fuyao Glass America, the world’s largest auto glass manufacturing plant, has more than 2,000 local employees and could in time have 3,000 employees.

Curran first mentioned plans for the course in an interview with the Dayton Daily News in January.

The course will rely on sociology, political science and economics to study the effect of China’s growth on the waters of China, the company and UD said.

UD’s River Stewards program is a three-year, interdisciplinary program studying around the Great Miami River watershed.

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