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University News

Hokkaido University Delegation Visits UMass Amherst

UMass Amherst officials welcomed Hokkaido University President Kiyohiro Houkin and his delegation this week to celebrate the long-lasting partnership between the two institutions and explore opportunities for future collaborations.

Representatives of Hokkaido University tour a lab on the UMass Amherst campus

This is President Houkin’s first visit to UMass Amherst. Before his role at Hokkaido University, he was a leading expert in neurosurgery and served as the director of Hokkaido University Hospital from 2013 to 2019.

Led by Houkin, the delegation from Hokkaido University is visiting from April 19-21. Delegation members include: Dr. Aya Takahashi, executive vice president for international affairs; Masaharu Yoshioka, professor of information science and technology; Yoichiro Hoshino, professor for field science for northern biosphere; Tetsuya Aikoh, associate professor of agriculture; Tetsuya Sato, manager of international planning; and Taena Uemura, research administrator at the Institute for International Collaborations.

Hokkaido University is one of the oldest and most prestigious national universities in Japan. Established in 1876, Hokkaido is attended by over 18,000 students, including 2,000 international students from over 130 countries. The university is known for its strengths in natural sciences, social sciences and engineering.

UMass Amherst and Hokkaido University have enjoyed a strong partnership since the late 1800s. The two universities have been linked ever since William S. Clark, the third president of Massachusetts Agricultural College (now UMass Amherst), helped establish Sapporo Agricultural College (now Hokkaido University) and served as the vice president of the Japanese college for eight months. The bond has remained strong over the years as both universities underwent transformations.

During their visit, Houkin and his delegation planned to meet with UMass Amherst's leadership including Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy and Provost Tricia Serio, faculty members and researchers to discuss new and ongoing collaborations in research, student exchange programs and joint academic initiatives. The discussions are focused on several areas of mutual interest, including environmental sustainability, health and well-being, agricultural innovations and international education.

The visit itinerary also featured a tour of research facilities, including the Institute for Applied Life Sciences, the Conte National Center for Polymer Research and the UMass Center for International Education. In addition, the delegation planned to visit the oldest and largest Japanese elm tree on American soil, which was planted from gifted seeds brought back from Japan and is housed on the southeast side of South College. They also planned to attend a curated presentation on the Hokkaido Archives and Special Collections at the DuBois Library and to tour the UMass Cold Spring Orchard and Agricultural Learning Center.