University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota
THE HISTORY Learn about the University of Minnesota's history with China.


China 100 was a yearlong celebration honoring the first students from China and the wealth of connections that have come since. This celebration honored the past and took a look forward at the engagement between the University of Minnesota and China.

The first Chinese students, Pan Wen Huen, Pan Wen Ping, and Kwong Yih Kum, enrolled at the University in 1914. 100 years later, the University hosts more than 2,200 students and scholars from China each year, while its American students are studying in more than 15 study abroad and exchange programs in greater numbers each year.

In 2014, the University had more than 80 memorandum of agreements with some 30 Chinese universities as strategic partners, while University world-renowned faculty works with Chinese researchers to address some of the world’s most pressing problems. As one of the first universities to resume academic exchanges with China in 1979, the University of Minnesota hopes to continue its strong commitment to developing more exchange and partnership opportunities with China in the next 100 years.


China 100 Recap

As the year 2014 came to an end, so did the festivities for the University of Minnesota’s China 100, a yearlong celebration honoring the first students from China and the wealth of connections that have come since. Several events were planned to honor Chinese alumni, feature University research and connections with China, and share the stories of Chinese students and U.S. students who traveled to China.

The celebration kicked-off in the summer of 2013 when University President Eric Kaler traveled to China, hosting receptions for more than 550 alumni and prospective students in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, and Taipei.

President Kaler met alumnus Edwin Lee (Mechanical B.S., 1976) in China who shared, “To this day, I still follow Gopher sports on the internet, read my Star Tribune and read about Minnesota news. That's why it's always fun whenever we get to meet students, or other guests from the U. It's the chance to get caught up with my old self. That's never going to change. Go Gophers!”

Back on campus, more than 100 Chinese visiting scholars and their advisers joined in the celebration along with more than 250 people from the general campus community for a series of lectures and receptions.

Beginning in January 2014, the popular China 100 History Exhibit traveled around Minnesota and China, sharing with visitors the rich history between the University and China. The exhibit focused on topics such as faculty exchanges, strategic partnerships, study abroad, arts and culture, and sports. An estimated 4,000 people viewed the exhibit during its run.

The China Center proudly hosted the China 100 Symposium: U, Minnesota, and China looking forward to the next century on April 22, 2014 at the McNamara Alumni Center. 250 people helped to make the event a success and Minnesota state Governor Mark Dayton honored the event with the "Minnesota China Education Exchange Day" proclamation. The audience had the special opportunity to hear from Lawrence Pan, the grandson of the first Chinese student Wen Ping Pan to attend the University, and view a short video documentary of the first University delegation to China in 1979, led by Regent Wenda Moore.

"So many people have contributed to the history we are all a part of. A history we are so very proud of and one worth celebrating today and one worth remembering every day as we move into our next 100 years," Associate Vice President and Dean of International Programs Meredith McQuaid said of the celebration.

In October and December 2014, the University’s China Center hosted closing receptions for the celebration. Distinguished Chinese alumni were honored in Minneapolis, Beijing, and Taipei, honoring distinguished Chinese alumni who had been nominated and selected as part the China 100 celebration. In Minneapolis, President Kaler recognized eight alumni at an event during the University’s 100th anniversary of homecoming. The Beijing event was generously hosted at the Beijing residence of Max Sieben Baucus, U.S. Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China. At that event, Ambassador Baucus and Provost Karen Hanson recognized 12 China-based alumni as well as Kuang Yikun, the daughter of one of the first Chinese students Kwong Yih Kum, and Academician Tao Wenquan, who spent time at the University as a visiting scholar. Associate Vice President and Dean of International Programs Meredith McQuaid presented ten alumni with a plaque of recognition at the reception event in Taipei.

The Distinguished Chinese Alumni Award recognized outstanding Chinese alumni from the greater China area who attended the University of Minnesota as international students and graduated, and have contributed to the local, national, and international community during the past century. A group of University faculty and staff members selected alumni, who were nominated through an application process that took place between September 2013 and September 2014, to be awarded.