A world-renowned scholar and a leader at Old Dominion University, Jie Chen was at a crossroads in his career. But now with a month on the job as the dean of the College of Graduate Studies at the University of Idaho, Chen knows he is on the right path.
“This job really offered me the opportunity to focus on the administration side of my career,” says Chen. “I enjoy working with students and tackling issues critical to an institution, and I think this position is where my talents can best be used at this phase in my career.”
He is excited to join the University of Idaho family, especially, he says, because the state’s flagship university is taking the greater leadship role in Idaho’s higher education future. In addition, since the College of Graduate Studies draws students from across the institution, he is looking forward to taking advantage of the focus on interdisciplinary learning at the University.
“There’s a really good understanding of interdisciplinary programs on campus,” says Chen. “There’s a sense of synergy throughout the entire campus.”
As he settles in and gets to know the campus, students and staff, he is also looking to the future of the College of Graduate Studies.
“I can offer vision to the college to help growth, specific goals and objectives,” says Chen. “I basically believe this college should focus on programs which have characteristics and strengths such as interdisciplinary, applicability and collaboration.”
He also brings an international perspective to Idaho: he grew up in and earned his bachelor’s degree in China. He holds the Changjiang Endowed Chair Professorship, the highest honor bestowed by the Ministry of Education, People’s Republic of China, and is the Zhiyuan Chair Professor of Public Opinion Studies at the College of International and Public Affairs at Shanghai Jiaotong University as a summer appointment. He is one of the top scholars in survey research on Chinese politics.
This summer, Chen was invited to the Chinese Academy of Sciences to give a talk on his nationwide survey research on the role of the middle class in political change. He also was invited by Sun Yat-sen University to participate in a book signing ceremony for his new book (in Chinese), which was published over the summer by the San Yat-sen University Press.
At U-Idaho, Chen will serve as the William Borah Distinguished Professor of Political Science.
Chen says the administrative staff in his college has been really helpful as he gets settles in; in fact, he’s found that helpfulness in all his experiences around campus. He is impressed by the leadership group; he spent his first day at the University in a retreat with the group of senior administrators and was heartened by its energy, vision, and commitment to the University.
“I feel honored to be a part of and share the leadership team’s goals and vision,” says Chen.
This isn’t Chen’s first experience on the Palouse; he earned his doctorate in political science from Washington State University.
“My wife and I have good memories of the Palouse, we hope to continue making good memories here,” says Chen.
Previously, Chen was the political science department chair, director of the graduate program in international studies and director of the institute of Asian studies at Old Dominion University. Prior to Old Dominion, he was the director of international studies minor program and associate director of the Center for Pacific Rim Studies at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. He also was a policy analyst for the Office of Overseas Chinese Affairs at the State Council of the People’s Republic of China.