President Bill Meehan and an entourage are visiting four universities. Meehan is offering periodic reports online about the happenings in the East.
"The stage is set and the work has begun on an agreement that will lead to new friendships and opportunities for students and faculty at Shanghai Normal University and Jacksonville State University," he wrote June 4 on JSU's Web site.
In the fall, JSU will launch its first computer science program with Taizhou University in China, another stop on the visit. It's called a "one-two-one" program. Students study in Taizhou for the first and last year, with a two-year stint at JSU in between. Graduates will receive degrees from both universities upon completion.
Becky Turner, JSU vice president for academic and student affairs, said it internationalizes the school even more.
"For one thing," she said, "it brings a rich exposure to other cultures to our campus, and that's every important."
She said students from this region were not widely traveled and this will make them more broadly educated.
"It opens up the world to JSU students," she said. "And it opens up the world to the Chinese students who can come here … It humanizes us in ways that I think nothing else will."
Traveling with Meehan are Earl Wade, College of Arts and Sciences dean; John Ketterer, JSU International House director; and Lisa Williams, College of Arts and Sciences associate dean.
Turner said JSU has had a mutual agreement with Wuhan University for more than 15 years, mostly exchanging faculty to teach at the respective schools. She said the new trip is about opening up opportunities at other universities and being cordial.
Meehan hasn't visited Wuhan before, she said.
"When you have relationships with universities in China and in other countries for that matter," she said, "it's important to establish relationships and to maintain those."
His visit, she said, is about extending hospitality and thanking them for the exchange program in hopes of increasing it.
JSU officials also visited Zhejiang University.
"We observed faculty instructing broadcast classes in state-of-the-art facilities where students receive feedback from instructors and a CD of their work in less than 15 minutes," Meehan wrote Wednesday on JSU's Web site.
JSU Director of Public Relations Patty Hobbs said the group returns back to work on Monday.