FirstPathway Partners Chairman, Robert Kraft, serves on the Advisory Board of the Wisconsin China Initiative, a group dedicated to creating “new partnerships between Chinese higher education institutions and UW-Madison, and to develop plans for strategic engagements between China and the state of Wisconsin”. Additionally, this group serves to “build an effective platform for UW engagement with the China region and deepen and expand education and research about China”.
During the meeting, several topics were covered, including updates on campus activities that connect the community with China, such as Energy Summit. Michael Corradini, professor of Engineering Physics and Wisconsin Energy Institute Director, noted that his institute is a leader in energy research, education and outreach, and boasts the nation’s first solar energy lab. The university also conducts China business workshops, focusing on Wisconsin’s business history with China. Various networking and marketing strategies are covered in group-based discussions, rounding out the program offerings.
The Shanghai Innovation Office and International Studies Associate Dean, W. John Kao, talked about the university’s international office, located in Shanghai, which Kao believes serves as a “coalescing point to brand UW’s strengths and garner interest in the business community." He later adds, "Its mandate is to serve the campus as a whole and then become self-sustaining.”
Efforts made by programs such as the Wisconsin China Initiative help strengthen the connection between the United States and China. The initiative is currently exploring tracking returns to China, along with international jobs pursued by program participants, which would reveal the benefits of the program. It will also work on involving more international students with the partnerships. Final thoughts by Dean Podesta, International Studies Dean: “Everyone is aware of the importance of international relationships, especially with China. What we need from board members is more ideas and challenges. Speak clearly about our challenges. We know what a priority China is.” Current UW student Jennifer Ostrowski added, “Here at school, the one thing that comes up over and over again is China. This is a fantastic and amazing opportunity to learn about China as an important player in global economic development.” And lastly, Mr. Gargan, external Advisory Board Member, stressed China’s status as the second largest economy in the world, saying, “It’s critically important to have faculty at Wisconsin who know China.”