China Liaison Officer bridges Queen's and Chinese schools
When Zhiyao Zhang moved to Kingston from China in 2000, he expected to stay put and raise his family here. But Queen’s had other plans for him – making him Queen’s “ambassador” to China and officially opening the China Liaison Office in Shanghai in 2007.
“I really have become the bridge between Queen’s and China,” says Dr. Zhang, who taught political studies at both Queen’s and the Royal Military College (RMC) before taking on the ambassador role. “I help make the connections at various Chinese universities – I help the two sides cross the bridge, meet each other, talk to each other.”
As the China Liaison, Dr. Zhang focuses on building academic programs between Queen’s and partner schools, recruiting students, developing alumni relations, and facilitating research collaboration. As Principal Daniel Woolf has noted on his blog, Dr. Zhang “keeps Queen’s ‘on the radar’ in China.” In particular, Dr. Zhang has helped forge strong partnerships with some of the top institutions in China, including Fudan, Tsinghua, Tongji and Renmin universities.
“Because of my background, it is easy for me to talk with people and create a network for Queen’s in China,” says Dr. Zhang. “I’ve also been with Queen’s for a long time and I understand our needs, and have good relationships with faculty members who want to create connections in China.”
Dr. Zhang grew up in northeast China and received his master’s and PhD in political science from Jilin University in Changchun. He taught for several years and served as associate dean of political studies at Jilin before moving to Canada.
“I never thought I’d go back to China to live and to work, especially in a humongous city like Shanghai,” says Dr. Zhang, smiling. “But this position is really rewarding. I enjoy being the coordinator, being the link for Queen’s to this very important region – which is the single biggest source of international students for Canada.”
Dr. Zhang’s recent priorities have included helping smooth the transition of the Semester in Shanghai program, a joint initiative between Queen’s and Fudan that was administered by the Department of Global Development Studies and will now be administered by the Department of Literatures, Languages and Cultures. And in early May, he was back on Queen’s campus for an annual visit for meetings with offices and faculties, and for a signing ceremony between Queen’s and Tongji University to establish the Sino-Canada Network for the Environment and Sustainable Development.
Dr. Zhang, as a member of the International Office at Queen's, is working closely with Jim Lee, Queen’s Vice-Provost (International), on a Queen’s-China strategy, and he expects to see Queen’s presence in China grow steadily in all areas, notably research collaboration, academic programs, student recruitment, and alumni relations.