Susan Calhoun, Chris Thompson and Charlie Morgan, associate professor of sociology at OHIO, are pictured with Chubu University Vice President Izumi Nakashima and Dr. Yoshihiko Nimomiya, director of Chubu’s Research Collaboration Support Center.
Photographer: Jill Wallenhorst
Nov 20, 2013
By Jill Wallenhorst
This year marks the 40th anniversary of formal relations between Ohio University and its sister institution in Japan, Chubu University, which made a Chubu delegation's visit to OHIO for International Education Week (IEW) all the more fitting.
OHIO celebrated its first IEW Nov. 12-16 and during three days of the week played host to a four-member delegation from Chubu. The delegation included Izumi Nakashima, vice president at Chubu; Dr. Daijiro Tsuchiya, director of Chubu's Center for International Programs (CIP); Dr. Yoshihiko Nimomiya, director of Chubu's Research Collaboration Support Center; and Michiko Ishinabe, an OHIO graduate and office manager for Chubu's CIP.
The delegation's visit included a tour of the site where the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine's Dublin Campus is under development, meetings with various OHIO administrators including President Roderick J. McDavis, and attending the Awards for Excellence in Global Engagement reception.
The delegation also renewed its longer-term ties to the Department of Linguistics, the Center for International Studies and Alden Library and initiated new friendships with the College of Business, the Russ College of Engineering and Technology, and with OHIO research units such as the Edison Biotechnology Institute, the Diabetes Institute and the Center for Electrochemical Processes and Technology.
During its visit, the delegation was also updated on the most visible symbol of this 40-year relationship and partnership – the Yoshino cherry trees that line the bank of the Hocking River on the Athens Campus.
Dr. Christopher Thompson, chair of OHIO's Department of Linguistics and executive director of Japan programs, knew that a visit to the cherry trees and an update on the trees' status would be a must for the Chubu delegation's visit.
"We want our colleagues at Chubu to understand how much we enjoy the cherry trees and how important they are to us," said Thompson.
Chubu University donated 175 Yoshino cherry trees to OHIO in 1979 in honor of Ohio University's 175th anniversary and in celebration of the strong relationship between the two universities that began in 1973. Storm damage and Ohio's harsh winters had severely damaged all but 97 of the trees by 2003. In honor of OHIO's bicentennial, Chubu replaced the damaged trees and then some, bringing the total number of Yoshino cherry trees to 200 for OHIO's 200th anniversary in 2004.
The trees have been a hallmark of the Athens Campus' beauty, and each year the OHIO community celebrates the arrival of the cherry blossoms and the welcoming of spring with the Sakura (cherry blossom) lighting.
Susan Calhoun, OHIO's landscape coordinator, works hard to ensure that this gift and symbol of the OHIO-Chubu partnership remains alive and well. The Shafer Street site where the trees are located is a rather exposed environment for Yoshino cherry trees, but Calhoun tracks any trees that are performing poorly and replaces them when needed.
"We prefer to replant with young trees instead of being forced to remove and replace an entire section all at once," Calhoun said.
Calhoun's efforts to maintain the trees are helped by cherry tree "guru" Mr. Kozo Ihata, director of grounds at Chubu University, who communicates with Calhoun on all that needs to be done to care for the cherry trees and keep them at optimal condition.
"I get point-on-point instruction on any type of care from him," said Calhoun. "We actually once shipped a specific product for the trees all the way from Holland."
Calhoun's work was admired and appreciated by the two members of the Chubu delegation who attended the tree update during IEW and who walked along the trees, snapping photographs as they went.
The delegation was also presented a full, printed report from Calhoun that highlighted the tree care and maintenance and featured photos of the trees throughout the different seasons of the year.
"This is a first-time visit for me to Ohio University," said Nakashima. "It is very impressive. My delegation and I have been welcomed very warmly."