UNA Signs Historic Integrative Health Agreement With China-Based Shenqi Ethnic Medicine College

Aug. 15, 2013


Integrative Health 1By Terry Pace, Communications and Marketing

FLORENCE, Ala. – After two years of intensive planning and preparation, the University of North Alabama and the China-based Shenqi Ethnic Medicine College signed an agreement today officially establishing the UNA U.S.-China International Institute.

The historic joint venture was formalized by UNA President Dr. William G. Cale and Chairman Zhang Zhiting, the Chinese businessman who owns the Shenqi company, during ceremonies today at Rogers Hall on the UNA campus. The agreement states that the mission of the institute is “to prepare students as bilingual and bicultural professionals in the fields of integrative health and innovation management, and to explore educational opportunities in sustainable development.”

IH 2“Today is a path-breaking moment in higher education,” President Cale announced, hailing the establishment of “an unprecedented partnership” between the university and Chairman Zhang’s company, which is based in Guiyang, Guizhou, China. “I am not aware of any other example in which a Chinese citizen has chosen to join with an American university to establish such unique educational programs.”

The institute facilities – to be located on the old Florence Golf and Country Club property west of the UNA campus – will house UNA’s academic programs (including a master’s degree) in the emerging field of integrative health and preventative medicine. The Shenqi company will purchase the 154-acre site from the City of Florence and then construct, outfit and maintain the institute facilities.

“I am very happy to be back in Florence again,” Chairman Zhang remarked. “After much persistent hard work by UNA senior administrators and Florence city government officials, we are now ready to begin the implementation stage of creating a world-renowned program for integrative health.  May the integrative health education at UNA benefit all who will embrace the practice of health prevention and a healthy living and working style.”

The Shenqi group has purchased the old country-club property from the City of Florence for $2.1 million. Transfer of the property was completed at today's UNA ceremony.

“The vision for the City of Florence is to partner with both public and private parties to enrich the quality of life for all our citizens,” Florence Mayor Mickey Haddock noted. “The diversity in which we can attract innovative and forward-thinking individuals and companies to our area only enhances the opportunity to attract like-minded companies.” 

President Cale says that the project will begin with the physical creation of the center and the implementation of UNA’s academic curriculum in integrative health. Zhang’s company today presented $150,000 in seed money to UNA for the hiring of a new faculty position in integrative health.

“UNA will offer a master’s degree track in integrative health, a unique, state-of-the-art educational program,” the president explained. “Chairman Zhang’s vision, however, extends beyond this first step to eventually creating a botanical museum and garden, a visitors center and dining options as well as other academic programs and continuing-education offerings.”

Haddock believes the UNA U.S.-China International Institute will help strengthen the city’s international relations and enhance the marketability of the Shoals area on several innovative and vital levels.

“The proposal by Chairman Zhang for a world-class learning center is to train clinical practitioners and leaders in a holistic mental, physical and spiritual approach to health and well-being,” Haddock noted. “This integrative health program will greatly benefit all parties. It brings a new health concentration to the university, which will generate new students and be a greater attraction to the Shoals.”

President Cale believes the partnership helps broaden and clarify UNA’s bold and progressive vision for the future in terms of international affairs.

“What we do here today is more than expand education into a new realm,” he concluded. “We also take another important step onto the global stage. UNA is very proud of all that we are accomplishing to bring international perspectives to our campus and community."

High-resolution images from today's ceremony are available on the UNA Photo Gallery at: http://www.unalionsden.com/archive/album.php?album=UNA%20U.S.-China%20International%20Institute&year=2013