Originality-Infinity-Affinity: A Decade of OIA, a Century of Internationalization
2017 marks the 10th anniversary of NTU’s Office of International Affairs (OIA). On this occasion, OIA has held the “International Administrators Workshop” (Dec 8) and the “OIA X: A Golden Decennium 2007-17” exhibition (Dec 4-28) to showcase the office’s history and milestones.
Across the globe, “10, 十, X, 什, 拾” are all characters that represent ten—a number of completeness and excellence. As an epitome of East meets West, OIA embodies the many connotations of the “ten,” from familiar Mandarin phrases “十全十美” (perfection in every aspect) to poetry “十年磨一劍” (it takes ten years to make a sword), all reflecting OIA’s achievements in the past decade. The Chinese character for ten (十) can be interpreted as the shape of a cross, the squares on a chessboard, or the coordinate system, implying the search for direction and merit, as well as the paving of the road to success.
In the West, the Roman numeral “X” may be the most common symbol used for notes and annotations. NTU’s IoX Center (Internet of Everything) also uses the “X” to signify infinite possibilities. In classical Chinese poetry, The Book of Songs: The Ancient Chinese Poetry (詩經) indicates that “篇什” refers to a collection of ten poems, with “什” being poems, like our rhythmic determination woven through time.
Lastly, the Chinese character “拾” has double meanings. Aside from the meaning of “to collect, to organize,” the character also symbolizes advancement to the next level (拾級), which coincides with OIA’s aspiration—to celebrate its growth and achievements in the first decade while continuing to raise the bar in the next ten. The team used the office’s acronym to create the “Originality-Infinity-Affinity” slogan, embracing a new decade of challenges and prospects.
OIA’s predecessor, the “Contact Center” was first established in 1985, and later renamed as the “Center of International Academic Collaboration” and “Center of International Academic Exchange.” In response to global strategies and institutional developments, the center was officially upgraded to the “Office of International Affairs” (OIA) in 2007. Thirty-two summers and winters have come and gone, during which OIA has benefited from a total of 10 directors, 3 vice presidents, and 8 deputy vice presidents. The 10 directors are Qi-Fang Huang (黃啟方), Hou-Sheng Chan (詹火生), Tien-En Kao (高天恩), Han-Liang Chang (張漢良), Ruey-Shiung Lin (林瑞雄), Mei-Hwa Sung (宋美璍), Mu-Lan Hsu (徐木蘭), Chin-Jung Chiu (邱錦榮), Chia-Pei Chou (周家蓓), and Tung Sheng (沈冬). The 3 vice presidents are Tung Sheng, Hsiao-Wei Yuan (袁孝維), and Luisa Shu-Ying Chang (張淑英). The 8 deputy vice presidents are Yanwing Leung (梁欣榮), Jer-Ming Hu (胡哲明), Shang-Hsien Hsieh (謝尚賢), Hsiao-Wei Yuan, Hsinyu Lee (李心予), J. Bruce H. Shyu (徐澔德), Bennett Fu (傅友祥), and Jiun-Huei Proty Wu (吳俊輝). In commemoration of our 10-year track record, we must pay tribute to the hard work and dedication of our forerunners in order to toast our conquests today.
Throughout OIA’s history from 2007-2017, the office has weathered through tremendous transformations, including the nation’s higher education policy shift from the “Aiming for the Top University Project” (邁向頂尖大學計畫) to “Project Sprout” (深耕計畫) and the change of university presidents from President Si-Chen Lee (李嗣涔) to President Pan-Chyr Yang (楊泮池). During critical times, OIA plays a key role in fostering NTU’s massive leap for rapid internationalization while diligently leveraging the balance between partnership and competition with other world-class universities across the globe.
The office has come a long way with commendable growths and striking highlights, as well as an expansion from 12 to 40 colleagues, and from 1 division and 2 sections to 2 divisions, 6 sections, and 2 centers, with over a third of the colleagues (15 in number) fluent in at least three languages. Our missions in the last 10 years included signing MOUs with partner institutions, initiating student exchange programs, finding sustainability between quantity and quality, as well as facilitating a shift of focus from strengthening internal collaborations to engaging in international consortiums and reaching influential positions in various networks. The increased flow of international students through student exchange programs, visiting student programs, as well as degree and dual degree programs is setting the foundation for a globalized campus. Faculty exchange programs and other faculty-led joint ventures have also sparked alliances with prestigious universities.
Five years ago, OIA launched “Strategic Partnership,” a novel project that has enabled OIA to successfully host bilateral or trilateral conferences with seven selected partners, namely the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Tokyo, Kyoto University, Peking University, University of Sydney, University of Hamburg, and University of Tsukuba. OIA’s other significant achievements in the past five years included the creation of the SoNTU brand with over 40 original designs, and the expansion of its short-term programs from 2 to 28 programs, from summer courses to year-round courses, with a student increase from the initial 17 in 2010 to 2,340 in 2017. Moreover, OIA has been working with NTU’s global partners to successfully facilitate more than 30 proposals at three regional international higher education conferences (APAIE, NAFSA, EAIE) and two international conferences for senior administrators (AIEA, Going Global), promoting NTU and enhancing its international reputation and influence. In 2018, OIA will be hosting two Annual Presidents’ Meetings (APRU, AEARU) in concurrence with NTU’s 90th anniversary.
In addition to the “OIA X: A Golden Decennium 2007-17” exhibition and reception, OIA also hosted the first International Administrators Workshop, inviting speakers from different universities and networks to speak on six important topics, namely international collaboration, international recruitment, global branding, short-term programs, international student services, and study abroad programs, to encourage international staff in Taiwan to meet, network, and exchange ideas about current issues and future challenges.
Internationalization is ever-changing, and OIA has to continually push to address the needs and challenges of modern day. However, the key is to have prevalence, like “a river cuts through stone, not because of its power, but its persistence.” As a globally respected research university, NTU is an exemplar of Taiwanese higher education. The NTU OIA is not only the university’s window to the world, but also the backbone of campus globalization. This backbone is the product of the accumulative efforts of students, teachers, and administrators at NTU. Thus, at our 10th anniversary, we are pleased to exhibit our experience and welcome all to share our happiness. We hope that you will keep walking forward with us hand in hand for many years to come.
(By Luisa Shu-Ying Chang / Translated by Cher Chiu)