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BC Sees Prospective Partnership in Math with Chinese University

09/05/13

By Sean Smith | Chronicle Editor

Published: Sept. 5, 2013

Boston College was one of nine US universities to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Mathematical Sciences Center and Department of Mathematical Sciences at Tsinghua University in China, a move that could foster faculty and student exchanges and other cooperative ventures.

Mathematics faculty members characterize the prospective partnership between BC and Tsinghua as mutually beneficial for two institutions looking to strengthen the visibility and scope of their mathematics programs.

“Tsinghua’s Mathematical Sciences Center — established in an effort to attain a new level of international prominence — is only about four years old, and has a lot of new students and faculty, many of them young,” said Assistant Professor David Treumann, who taught at Tsinghua this summer and represented BC at the signing ceremony. “Tsinghua is seeking support from other institutions around the world – not so much in terms of resources, but to have regular visits and interaction involving faculty and students.

“Our department has similar goals and issues as Tsinghua: We’ve undergone a lot of changes in recent years, such as adding a doctoral program, and are looking to build on our progress. This memorandum of understanding with Tsinghua represents the potential to be active in an international setting.”

McIntyre Professor and Chair of Mathematics Solomon Friedberg, who lauded Treumann’s role in the memorandum with Tsinghua, said the establishment of the Tsinghua mathematics program reflects significant social and political changes in China.

“During the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, China had few opportunities for mathematicians. Today, as a major financial capital and entrepreneurial center, China sees math and science as big drivers for the future. There are many highly talented young Chinese mathematicians who are having a dramatic impact on the field, which is another reason we are excited by the partnership.

“This memorandum of understanding with Tsinghua will, we hope, enable BC to engage with academics and professionals in this emerging hotbed for mathematics.”

Friedberg noted the other eight US universities — among 33 worldwide — invited to sign the memorandum are prominent names in mathematics: California-Berkeley, Chicago, Columbia, Duke, Harvard, Northwestern, Stanford and UCLA.

“BC is in good company here,” he said. “The other potential benefit of the Tsinghua partnership is the possibility for collaborations with faculty from the partner institutions worldwide. We look forward to seeing how this unfolds.”