1. Open letter in support of Chinese students, scholars and faculty

    June 5, 2020

    To all members of the U-M community,

    The University of Michigan welcomed its first Chinese students 128 years ago. Since that time, our Chinese students, post-doctoral scholars and faculty have enriched our institution through teaching, learning, research and impact on society. Our principles of international engagement and cross-cultural understanding have been a foundation of our strength and progress for generations and enhance our standing as a leading international community of scholars.

    Many in our community have reached out in recent days with questions and concerns regarding our support for our Chinese students and faculty. Our core values have not changed in the wake of new policies and proposals that target this segment of our community and seek to limit the ability of Chinese students and researchers to study and work at our nation’s colleges and universities. We share their concerns about any changes that would negatively affect individual scholars and the quality of our university.

    The president’s recent proclamation restricting entry to the United States for certain Chinese students and researchers and proposed federal legislation that would prohibit Chinese nationals from receiving visas to the U.S. for graduate or postgraduate studies in STEM fields have led to understandable worry. Additional information on the proclamation as it pertains to U-M is available on the International Center’s website.

    Much is still unclear about the proclamation, which seeks to bar entry to the U.S. by Chinese graduate students with ties to military-influenced organizations and universities. We and our partners in the Association of American Universities are working with the State Department and FBI to obtain details about the proclamation and how its implementation may impact our students and researchers, including graduate students holding F-1 and J-1 visas and researchers currently in the U.S. with a valid visa.

    While we take seriously threats to national security and have worked to implement practices aimed at addressing foreign government interference, we oppose arbitrary restrictions on Chinese students who have been and continue to be valuable members of the U-M community. These restrictions also limit our ability to attract top talent that contributes to our nation’s health, security and economy. We support our Chinese students, researchers and faculty and ardently believe restrictions should be limited to those who pose security risks based on credible intelligence and evidence.

    Our government relations team in the university’s Washington, D.C., Office is actively engaged on all matters that potentially have negative consequences for our community of international students and scholars. Part of that work is monitoring a bill recently introduced by Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and others that would prohibit any Chinese nationals from receiving visas to the U.S. for graduate or postgraduate studies in STEM fields, although we do not believe this bill will gain traction in the Senate.

    Another concerning proposal that Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio and others are expected to introduce would potentially prohibit foreign graduate students and researchers with previous ties or likely ties to foreign governments from obtaining visas for reasons not limited to export controls including those doing fundamental research.

    Our partners in the Association of American Universities and Association of Public and Land-grant Universities also regularly monitor legislation and are already mobilizing efforts to share our deep concerns with legislators and policymakers. Offering proposals, even for the purpose of taking a political stance, can have an adverse impact on our ability to create a welcoming community that attracts global talent to our university.

    Please know that the university considers these issues top priorities and will continue to monitor them, strategically engage when opportunities arise and strongly oppose efforts to place inappropriate limits on our international students, faculty and visitors.


    Mark S. Schlissel, M.D., Ph.D.

    Susan M. Collins
    Interim Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs

    Rebecca Cunningham
    Vice President for Research

    Mike Solomon
    Dean, Rackham Graduate School