Chancellor receives honorary professorship at Xi'an Jiaotong University

Zheng Nanning, president of Xi'an Jiaotong University, and Chancellor Harvey Perlman
Zheng Nanning, president of Xi'an Jiaotong University, and Chancellor Harvey Perlman

Chancellor Harvey Perlman returned last month from China with a new title: Honorary University Professor at Xi'an Jiaotong University.

In addition to being a rare honor, the professorship further strengthens the relationship between Xi'an Jiaotong University and UNL, said David Lou, director of UNL's Confucius Institute and new deputy director of the American Culture Center in Xi'an.

Lou said Perlman's honorary professorship is a rare lifetime appointment that entitles Perlman to the privilege of being a professor at the university, and Perlman will travel occasionally to China to give lectures on intellectual property.

"The Honorary University Professor is only given to a person of distinction, professionally accomplished in an academic or professional area, and who's recognized internationally for their expertise and for their contributions especially to the Xian Jiaotong University," Lou said. "Some of the past honorary university professorships have been given to Nobel Prize winners… it's the highest honor they can give to a foreign scholar."

"In the case of chancellor Perlman, it's acknowledging his special academic accomplishments in intellectual property rights."

Perlman will be invited back to give lectures at his convenience, "not as an obligation but as an honor," Lou said.

"I am honored," Perlman said, "and I will lecture as often as they want me to," although not in Chinese. "I am hopelessly language-challenged and thus am incapable of learning more Chinese."

Chancellor Perlman accepted the honorary professorship at a special ceremony in September when he traveled to Xi'an to also sign the agreement for the American Culture Center. He presented a lecture on intellectual property at XJTU.

Lou said the chancellor's significant contribution to globalizing UNL's and XJTU's reach are also significant and a factor in his selection for the honor.

"The third requirement in the honorary university professorship is that someone has done something significant for Xi'an," he said. "Globalizing UNL and Xi'an Jiaotong has been one of the major foci for chancellor Perlman, and making both more active internationally, pushing to work with Xian Jiaotong academic programs in research, the partnership degree program, and under the leadership of Prem Paul, we also have research workshops conducted in China. Four years ago we started the degree exchange program and now we have almost 100 students on campus from Xi'an. We are now pursuing efforts to establish closer relationship with other universities."

The new University of Nebraska agreement with Xi'an Jiaotong University announced this week created an American Culture Center in Xi'an, China. The center — one of only 10 to receive seed funding from the U.S. government — will initiate a variety of programs to expose students, faculty and staff at Xi'an Jiaotong to all things American, including history, government, art, law, medicine and culture.

- Kelly Bartling