A Valparaiso University political science professor who has strengthened connections between China and the campus and wider region will be honored as the 2011 recipient of Valpo’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Award.

Dr. Zhimin Lin, chair of Valpo’s Chinese and Japanese Studies Program and an associate professor of political science, will be recognized during the University’s MLK Convocation on Jan. 17. The award is presented annually to a person or group with a demonstrated commitment to King’s ideals and has made significant and lasting contributions to the improvement of the racial climate on campus and in the surrounding community.

President Mark Heckler said Valpo is blessed by Lin’s living example of leadership and service in the cause of social justice, freedom and equality. 

“This award is a most fitting tribute to the many ways in which Professor Lin serves to advance the principles espoused by Dr. King on our campus and in the larger community,” Heckler said. “Valparaiso University is richer culturally, academically and socially because of his dedication and tireless effort.”

Since joining the University’s faculty in 1990, Lin has established and led Valpo’s Chinese and Japanese Studies Program, created its Hangzhou Study Center, recruited numerous Chinese students and scholars to campus, advanced numerous academic partnerships with Chinese universities, and collaborated with the Valpo-based Confucius Institute.

Lin said he is humbled to receive the award and noted that colleagues and students who helped make Valpo a more diverse, welcoming and international campus share in it.

“Dr. King is the inspiration for all of us who strive to make this universe, including this campus, a better place to live with greater acceptance of the need and importance of cultural, academic and person-to-person exchanges with other nations, including China,” Lin said. 

In 2002, he helped Valpo win a $1.78 million Freeman Grant to support its Chinese programs, and in 2005 helped the University win the first of three U.S. Department of Education grants totaling more than $500,000 to support intensive Chinese language programs. 

Lin has been instrumental in bringing almost 100 visiting Chinese scholars to campus to study and interact with Valpo faculty and students, as well as community members. An equal number of University faculty members and community leaders in Northwest Indiana have visited China with him. 

At Valpo, Lin teaches courses on public policy in China, contemporary Chinese society and culture, politics in East Asia, international relations and American foreign policy. He is the author of “China Under Reform” and co-editor of “Provincial Strategies of Economic Reform in Post-Mao China: Leadership, Politics, and Implementation,” and his current research explores how China is governed, perceptions of the United States among China’s general public, and contemporary Chinese politics and public policy. 

The University’s annual celebration of King’s legacy includes numerous activities that are open to the public from Jan. 14 to 20. The Jan. 17 MLK Convocation at which Lin will be honored begins at 10 a.m. in the Chapel of the Resurrection and kicks off a full day of activities on campus. For more information, visit the www.valpo.edu/mlk.