Chinese alumni gather in first such event overseas

Alumni gathering

From left, alumnus Jin Yang, alumnus Gu Hong, Dr. David Berkowitz, Dr. Christine Curtis, Dr. Junpeng Guo, Dr. Emanuel Waddell, alumnus Jing Hao, alumnus Dai Weiji, alumna Lisa Chen (spouse of Dr. Yeqing Bao), Dr. Yeqing Bao, alumna Zhang Hanxia and alumnus Chen Bing.

Courtesy Dr. Yeqing Bao

In the first event of its kind held overseas, six Chinese alumni of The University of Alabama in Huntsville reunited recently in Shanghai.

The gathering may be the inaugural for a series of such meetings in different countries in which the university has alumni, says Dr. David Berkowitz, dean of UAH’s Graduate School and Office of International Services.

"Our office will continue to reach out to our alums in countries outside the United States as we grow our alumni base," says Dr. Berkowitz. "We’ll explore some of these other opportunities as they fit into our schedule as we are visiting those countries."

Organizational efforts are beginning in order to hold an alumni gathering in India and potentially one in Canada, he says.

"We are trying to make sure that our alumni around the world are connected to us and understand that UAH has great interest in them and their current endeavors," Dr. Berkowitz says. "We really like to know what they are doing,"

UAH faculty and staff at the Chinese event were Dr. Berkowitz; Dr. Christine Curtis, provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs; Dr. Junpeng Guo, professor of Electrical Engineering and Optics; Dr. Emanuel Waddell, associate dean of the College of Science; and Dr. Yeqing Bao, associate dean of the Graduate School and Office of International Services. Dr. Bao coordinated the event.

A UAH delegation traveled to China to visit three universities to establish stronger academic relationships with them, says Dr. Curtis. "On Sunday, we traveled from Nanjing to Shanghai to visit with UAH alumni living in that city and the surrounding area. Dr. Guo joined us."

The timing was perfect, Dr. Bao says. "With support from the university, I thought it was a good opportunity to organize an alumni gathering with the UAH delegation."

Dr. Bao’s trip to China involved two primary tasks. "The first half of the trip I was taking a group of students to study abroad in China, mostly at Hohai University in Nanjing," for UAH’s third study abroad trip to the country. "The second half of the trip I was part of the delegation visiting the partner universities," he says.

The alumni event was pleasant and cheerful, according to Dr. Bao.

"Students introduced themselves and briefed us about their employment situations so far," Dr. Bao says. "All of the alumni there that day were very young, and had graduated within the last five years. Provost Christine Curtis and other UAH administrators and faculty all wished them well in their career development."

The gathering is an indicator of UAH’s global impact, says Mallie Hale, UAH’s senior director of Alumni Relations and executive director of the Alumni Association.

"UAH is expanding, not just in campus size or student population, but in global impact," Hale says. "We have alumni residing all over the world, which speaks to UAH’s impressive outreach, reputation and diversity."

Some of the Chinese alumni played prominent roles on campus when they were students here, as important guides for other international students as they came through the Office of International Services, says Dr. Berkowitz. "It was exciting to see everybody and find out that they are off to a good start in their careers."

The UAH graduates were excited about their jobs and prospects, says Dr. Curtis. "They felt like their experience at UAH was meaningful and helpful for their current employment."


Dr. David Berkowitz

Jim Steele