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"New Graduates who don't find an immediate job should start their own companies", interview
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14:21, August 06, 2007

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Chancellor Wiley of University of Wisconsin-Madison recently returned from an 11-day trip to China, South Korea and Japan, during which he visited Beijing, Hong Kong, Seoul, and Tokyo. As the chief executive officer of this distinguished public university in the United States, what is his vision of the future collaboration with Chinese institutions? How can UW distinguish itself from other top American universities? Recently, Ning Ma, a recent graduate from UW law school and Xing Zong, a rising fifth year Ph.D. student from Duke University took an exclusive interview with Chancellor Wiley.

About University of Wisconsin-Madison,

The University of Wisconsin–Madison (or UW) is a highly selective public research university located in Madison, Wisconsin. Founded in 1848, it is the largest university in the state with a total enrollment of over 41,000 students, of whom approximately 29,000 are undergraduates. A public, land-grant institution, UW-Madison offers a wide spectrum of liberal arts studies, professional programs, and student activities. The school is frequently called a "public Ivy," and in 2007 US News and World Report ranked UW-Madison the seventh best public university in the United States. The school has a number of specific programs that are ranked among the best in the US (e.g. sociology, education).

Chancellor John Wiley

About Chancellor John D. Wiley,

Chancellor John D. Wiley has more than four decades of experience with the University of Wisconsin–Madison, having been a graduate student, a professor, and an administrator during his illustrious university career. Assuming office on January 1, 2001, he is the 27th person to lead the university since its founding in 1848.

Ning Ma: Chancellor Wiley, it is our great honor to have this opportunity to ask you a few questions. First of all, we are very delighted to know that you just came back from a trip to China. It will be reasonable for us to infer that the primary purpose for your trip is to promote the cooperation and coordination between UW and Chinese universities/government. Would you please elaborate on the nature and effect of the trip? Is there anything that exceeds your expectation from the trip?

Wiley: The original purpose of the trip to Beijing was to attend the Annual Meeting of the Worldwide Universities Network – a consortium currently consisting of 17 Universities from six countries. In the past, Annual Meetings have been held in Washington or London. This year, in recognition of our two Chinese members, Nanjing University and Zhejiang University, we decided to hold the meeting in Beijing.

While I was in Beijing, I renewed a ten-year cooperative agreement between the University of Wisconsin and the Chinese Academy of Sciences; visited the Chinese Ministry of Education; discussed ongoing and future cooperative programs with Peking University; and signed a Memorandum of Understanding for future exchanges with Tsinghua University.

In addition, I participated in the inaugural ceremonies, dedicating the Kavli Institute of Theoretical Physics – China, and hosted a reception for Wisconsin Alumni living in or near Beijing. The enthusiasm and accomplishments of our alumni were extraordinarily gratifying, exceeding my already high expectations.

Xing Zong: Sounds like a very exciting and fruitful trip! The State of Wisconsin actually is not a very diverse state, where the whites constitute the absolute majority – about 89% of the entire population. However, besides a high percentage of racial minorities in the university, there are more than 3,000 international students from more than 100 countries/regions of the world pursuing their degrees at UW. You mentioned "Creating Community" idea in your statement of diversity. You might know that Chinese universities also worked hard to recruit more students from different countries/regions. Maybe we can learn from you on this issue, how is UW able to attract students from such a diverse background?

Wiley: There are many different kinds of human characteristics that potentially contribute to diversity -- race, ethnicity, and nationality, to mention only three. Any organization that thrives on ideas and values creativity must necessarily value diversity because good ideas and creativity are pretty evenly distributed throughout the entire human race, and no organization that hopes to thrive can afford to cut itself of from even a fraction of the potential contributors.

The key to creating a creative community is to seek out talented people from all identifiable groups, and let the results of their interactions be the primary thing that attracts even more talented individuals.

In other words, once an organization gets a reputation for being an open, welcoming, creative, interesting place to work and learn, attracting new students and employees is almost automatic. Getting such a reputation in the first place takes some time and effort, but with constancy of purpose and some time, the goal is easily achieved.

Ning Ma: Globalization brings everyone closer. More interactions between U.S. universities and the rest of the world are taking place day after day. Each school is trying to attract more talented international students and researchers to join it. UW is facing competitions from the Ivy League universities, Californian public universities, both of which are on the coast areas. What makes UW excel in the competition?

Wiley: I really don''''t view it as a competition. The world is a big place – big enough to allow every university on earth to be both a source of students who study abroad, and a host site for students from other countries. We should all be doing more of this and not worrying about exhausting the supplies.

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