The University of Dayton celebrated the grand opening of its new and unique China Institute in one of the fastest-growing and most competitive development zones in the world, the Suzhou Industrial Park, with a ceremony and by signing partnership agreements with five multinational companies.
UD is the first American university to open a location in the industrial park, where a third of the world’s Fortune 500 companies have operations. The park made a multi-million dollar investment to renovate a five-story, 68,000-square-foot building with classrooms, laboratories and project space for the university. UD was invited rent-free for three years, and the Suzhou Industrial Park is providing some operational funds.
“It was really overwhelming the amount of support we received from our Chinese colleagues,” UD President Daniel Curran said in an interview from China. He added Wednesday’s dedication was “very successful,” even amid constant rain from a nearby typhoon.
The Suzhou Industrial Park, about 75 miles from Shanghai, is located in Jiangsu Province in eastern China. The park is a cooperative venture between the governments of China and Singapore.
The China Institute, which the university is calling UDCI, will allow faculty and students to conduct applied research and product development for industries in the park. UD’s memorandums of understanding for partnerships include one with Henny Penny, which has offices in Eaton and at the Suzhou Industrial Park. A Marianist heritage center is also proposed, short courses are already being taught in areas such as energy-efficient manufacturing, and UD is exploring the opportunity for a teachers of English to speakers of other languages certificate program, according to the university.
The center also opens the door for more internships and co-op opportunities for students and could be a recruiting tool to attract more students from China, according to UD.
“It puts the University of Dayton on the global map in a way that will result in greater partnership for research, for student learning and for the economies both here in China, but also back home,” said former Ohio Gov. Bob Taft, a full-time UD professor who greeted the largely Chinese crowd of 100 who attended grand opening ceremony in their native language. Taft opened Ohio’s 11th international trade office in China in 2006 to increase export activities.
Along with the ceremony, which was conducted in English and Mandarin, the day included a tour of the facility and a dedication concert featuring UD music faculty and staff and members of the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company for “a wonderful celebration of not only business, education, technoloy, but also arts and culture,” said Ro Nita Hawes-Saunders, executive director of the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company.
The day also included an exchange of gifts, according to UD, with Curran presenting a model of the 1905 Wright Flyer and receiving a large, ceremonial key.
Memorandums were also signed with Marian (Suzhou) Co., Ltd., Makino (China) Co., Ltd., Emerson Climate Technologies (Suzhou) Research & Development Co., Ltd. and Lilly Suzhou Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. Partner companies unable to attend included GE Aviation China, Johnson & Johnson Medical (Suzhou), Ltd., SAS Automation, LLC and Delphi Electronics Suzhou Co., Ltd, according to UD.