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Pictured: Pradeep Khanna, director of international engagement, University of Illinois System; Barb Wilson, executive vice president and vice president of Academic Affairs, U of I System; Tim Killeen, president, U of I System; Chien-jen Chen, vice president of Taiwan; Andreas Cangellaris, provost, U of I at Urbana-Champaign; Der-Tsai Lee, U of I alumnus and distinguished professor at National Taiwan University.
University becomes 12th partner in U of I System’s growing research center

National Taiwan University (NTU), the country’s most comprehensive and prestigious university, has signed an agreement to partner in the growing Discovery Partners Institute, a world-class education and research center led by the University of Illinois System.

The memorandum of understanding making the Taiwanese university DPI’s 12th academic partner was signed last month during a nine-day visit to Taiwan and Singapore by U of I System President Tim Killeen and a delegation of system and university officials. The trip also included meetings with alumni and leaders in industry, and visits to multiple universities and government agencies.

It was the second visit to Taiwan and Singapore that Killeen has led since taking office in 2015, and among about a half-dozen international trips he has taken to expand global partnerships for the system and its universities in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield.

“Working with the world’s best, we can build on our already world-class academic and research programs to create life-changing new opportunities for our students and pioneering innovation to drive progress for our state, our nation and beyond,” Killeen said.

NTU is the fifth international partner in DPI, an education and research center in downtown Chicago that will foster the human and intellectual capital that drives progress and economic growth. Other global partners are Tel Aviv University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, MS Ramaiah Medical College in India and Cardiff University in Wales. U.S. partners are Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, the Illinois Institute of Technology, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory and the three U of I System universities.

The university is widely considered the best in Taiwan and among the best in the world, ranked 69th in the 2020 QS World University Rankings.

NTU has long-standing connections with the U of I System. About 60 faculty are alumni of Urbana-Champaign, which has about a dozen academic and student exchange agreements with NTU. Faculty also cooperate on research, including research projects within the College of Engineering, School of Social Work, College of Fine and Applied Arts and College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES).

With 33,000 students, 11 colleges and four research centers, Killeen said NTU will expand the power of DPI, a purpose-driven, collaborative research and education center that will bring together hundreds of top researchers and thousands of students. They will work with industry and government to solve real-world challenges by fostering innovation that creates new technology, products and businesses.

DPI is the flagship of the Illinois Innovation Network (IIN), another initiative led by the U of I System. The network of 15 hubs, which includes every public university in the state, will connect with DPI and each other to spread economic growth across the state through research and innovation.

During the trip, Killeen and the U of I System delegation also met with Taiwan’s vice president, Chen Chien-jen, and government ministers, including heads of the ministries of Agriculture, Education and Science and Technology. The system signed an agreement with the Ministry of Education renewing a fellowship program that sends up to five Taiwanese students to Urbana-Champaign every year for Ph.D. studies.

Killeen and the delegation also visited Singapore, including meetings at the National University of Singapore (NUS). The country’s oldest and largest public university, NUS ranks 11th in the latest QS World University Rankings and 25th in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

Like NTU, the U of I System has longstanding academic and research partnerships with NUS and a rich history of engagement across Singapore, home of the system’s first research center outside the U.S. The Advanced Digital Sciences Center, which opened in 2009, is an incubator of discovery in computer sciences and information technology.

Killeen was joined during the trips by Executive Vice President Barbara Wilson; Bill Sanders, interim director of DPI; Urbana-Champaign Provost Andreas Cangellaris; Robert Barish, vice chancellor for health affairs at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC); Kim Kidwell, dean of Urbana-Champaign’s College of ACES; King Li, dean of Urbana-Champaign’s Carle Illinois College of Medicine; Mark Rosenblatt, dean of UIC’s College of Medicine; Pradeep Khanna, director of international engagement; and Erin Nelson, senior director of international advancement in Urbana-Champaign.