Hokkaido University warmed its long partnership with the University of Massachusetts Amherst

University News | May 26, 2023

The history between Hokkaido University (HU) and the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass Amherst) dates back to the time of their respective roots, Sapporo Agricultural College and Massachusetts Agricultural College, in the 19th century.  Dr. William Smith Clark, the third president of Massachusetts Agricultural College, travelled from the other side of the Pacific Ocean to reach the far north of Japan, Hokkaido, to establish Sapporo Agricultural College as the vice president.  Although his stay in Hokkaido lasted less than a year, his presence and significance have been highly regarded, and the blessed bond of relationship between two establishments led to memorial visits this spring.

Delegates visited Dr. Clark’s gravesite

President Kiyohiro Houkin visited UMass Amherst from 19 to 21 April 2023, together with fellow HU members Executive Vice President for International Affairs Aya Takahashi; Professor Masaharu Yoshioka of the Faculty of Information Science and Technology; Professor Yoichiro Hoshino of the Field Science Centre for Northern Biosphere; Associate Professor and Advisor to the President Tetsuya Aikoh; Mr. Tetsuya Sato of the International Affairs Department; and University Research Administrator Taena Uemura of the Institute for International Collaboration. The delegates were welcomed by UMass Amherst leadership: Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy, Provost Tricia Serio, Associate Vice-Chancellor for Research and Engagement Laura Vandenberg, Interim Dean Nathaniel Whitaker of Natural Sciences, Dean Laura Haas of Information and Computer Sciences, Director Baoshan Xing of Agriculture, Dean Nandita Mani of University Libraries, Founding Director of the Institute for Applied Life Sciences (IALS) Peter Reinhart, and Vice Provost for Global Affairs Kalpen Trivedi. They shared their common interests in strengthening existing research collaborations in information and computer science, polymer science, and agriculture, examining staff exchange opportunities which used to be offered to administrative and library staff members, and expanding inter-university collaborations towards the 150th anniversary of HU in 2026.


President Houkin and his colleagues enjoyed a reunion with jointly-appointed professors, Associate Dean Shlomo Zilberstein of Research and Engagement and Professor James Allan of Information Science at the Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences, Professor Geunhwa Jung of Turfgrass Pathology at the Stockbridge School of Agriculture, and expressed appreciation towards their continuous support for doctoral supervision and co-education in HU’s graduate schools. The delegates had a chance to visit Professor Alfred Crosby’s Laboratory in the Conte National Centre for Polymer Researchwhere the late Assistant Professor Daniel King of  the Faculty of Advanced Life Science, HU, completed his doctoral course—and UMass Amherst’s key research facilities from aforementioned IALS to the John W. Olver Design Building, the UMass Cold Spring Orchards and Agricultural Learning Centre; and also memorial sites to track the connection of two agricultural colleges.

President Houkin (left) and Chancellor Subbaswamy (right)

UMass Library’s collection

Their visit to UMass Amherst was followed up by a reciprocal visit to HU. Dean Mani, Vice Provost Trivedi, and Ms. Ashley Krause, Education Abroad Advisor, came to HU between 7 and 9 May, met with student exchange teams and Japanology academics, and visited the University’s Botanic Garden, University Archives and Library, and University Museum.

HU Library Visit.

HU Archives’ collection

Text and photos provided by Institute for International Collaboration

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President’s Column #1 – Nostalgic visit to Massachusetts