University Community

Celebrating 50 years of cross-cultural exchange between OHIO and Chubu University

Ohio University's partnership with Chubu University in Japan is celebrating a remarkable 50 years of cultural exchange, academic collaboration, and building lifelong relationships. This program has enabled the exchange of hundreds of students and faculty between the two universities, allowing them to be part of a unique cultural learning experience while fostering academic collaboration. “As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of this partnership, it is an opportunity to reflect on the profound impact this shared experience has had on both institutions and to celebrate its success,” said Gillian Ice, interim associate provost for Global Affairs.

The ongoing partnership with Chubu University began 50 years ago with faculty exchanges, and has since expanded to include study away, exchange programs and graduate study. 

Explore the enduring OHIO-Chubu partnership through the lens of an alumni couple's unique academic journey across continents.

Ohio University will roll out an array of events and activities from November 13-17 to celebrate the annual International Education Week (IEW) and the 50th anniversary of the institution’s partnership with Chubu University. A delegation from Chubu, helmed by President Yoshimi Takeuchi, will travel to the Athens campus. "Their visit is a testament to the enduring friendship and cooperation between our two institutions," said Provost Sayrs. "We're excited to host the delegation and look forward to dedicating Friendship Park and breaking ground for the Friendship Park Pavilion."

How the historic OHIO-Chubu partnership began

The Chubu partnership was established to promote mutual understanding and to strengthen the relationship between Ohio University and Chubu University. Over the years, numerous students and faculty members have benefited from this exchange program. Students have been able to enhance their language skills, and experience a new culture, while faculty members have been able to collaborate in research.

The exchange program has brought great benefits to both institutions, promoting academic excellence and global understanding, Ice said. “Through our enduring collaboration with Chubu University, we’ve witnessed firsthand the transformational power of shared knowledge, and the benefits of fostering a deeper global perspective in our shared community,” Ice said.

In 1973, Chubu Institute of Technology President Dr. Kohei Miura and OHIO President Dr. Claude Sowle signed a formal agreement to begin the Miura Visiting Professors program. Each year, an Ohio University professor is selected to visit Chubu University for an academic term to engage in research or other scholarship.

OHIO physics faculty Tomoyasu Tanaka sits at a desk with an early desktop computer
The exchange is initiated by visiting Physics Professor Hiroshi Katsumori from Chubu University (ABOVE) and James Shipman. Photo courtesy of the Mahn Center For Archives & Special Collections.

 In 1977, Chubu started sending students to Athens to study English. By 1994, the Choki Study Abroad Program, which will celebrate its 30th anniversary next year, brought Chubu students to OHIO to study English at OPIE. Thirty Chubu students studied English at OHIO in the first class; 104 studied in Athens in 2022. In 2003, The Robert Glidden Visiting Professorship was inaugurated, and now each year a Chubu University professor visits Ohio University to engage in scholarship, creating a two-way visiting professor program.

Students Undergraduate students from Ohio University and Chubu University spend time learning from one another on Chubu’s campus
Undergraduate students from Ohio University and Chubu University spend time learning from one another on Chubu’s campus.

In addition, the partnership has generated more tangible reminders, such as the Chubu University Japanese Collection housed in the Alden Library, and the Yamada International House was renovated with a donation from Chubu and named after their former President in 2004.


An identical replica of Cutler Hall's cupola at Chubu University
In 1993, when the two universities marked the 20th anniversary of their agreement, OHIO sent an identical replica of Cutler Hall's cupola to Chubu University.

Celebrating the Chubu-OHIO partnership on the Athens campus

The upcoming meeting on Nov. 15 holds special significance, as both universities will recommit to their collaborative bond by signing a renewed Memorandum of Understanding. Adding charm to the event will be a dedication ceremony for 50 new cherry trees gifted by Chubu, a gesture of respect in honor of Chairman Emeritus Atsuo Iiyoshi, an OHIO honorary Doctor of Science recipient. "The cherry trees are symbolic of our flourishing partnership," commented the Provost, "much like these trees, our relationship has grown and strengthened over the years."

Person reading under the blooming cherry trees near the bike path on the Athens campus
A student reads under a blossoming cherry tree near the Hocking River in Athens, Ohio, in spring 2022.

Cherry trees have been an important cultural symbol in Japan for centuries, representing renewal and the beauty of life. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the partnership between Ohio University and Chubu University, Ohio University will plant 50 additional cherry trees on its campus. The planting of cherry trees will serve as a reminder of the fruitful partnership between the two institutions. The trees also symbolize the renewal of the exchange program, which will continue to promote cultural understanding and academic excellence between Ohio University and Chubu University for many years.

The Chubu delegation will also witness a significant milestone in OHIO's campus development - the groundbreaking of a new Japanese Pavilion, nestled within the cherry tree grove opposite the Convocation Center in what will be named Friendship Park. The cherry trees, planted in 1979, 2003, and 2023, stand as a testament to the legacy of the partnership that kickstarted with faculty exchanges five decades ago.

OHIO’s 50-year partnership with Chubu stands as a shining example of academic collaboration and mutual growth, setting the stage for continued cross-cultural understanding and the enrichment of both institutions.

As Provost Sayrs said, "Our students, faculty, and our campus are buoyed by the spirit of this partnership, each reflecting the long-lasting influence Chubu University has had on our community."



November 7, 2023
Staff reports