Dr. Zao Cheng Xu, founding executive director of the Confucius Institute and professor emeritus of anatomy and cell biology at the Indiana University School of Medicine, received a Chancellor’s Medallion from Chancellor Nasser H. Paydar on August 21, 2020, in recognition of his leadership and service to higher education, to the IUPUI campus, and to the city of Indianapolis, fostering a strong partnership between IUPUI and Sun Yat-sen University (SYSU), advancing curriculum globalization, and expanding educational opportunities.
Dr. Xu started his IUPUI career in 1998 as an associate professor in the IU School of Medicine. In 2007, he helped establish the Confucius Institute, which was born out of a collaboration between IUPUI and SYSU to promote Chinese language and culture and to create educational and business opportunities between China and the United States. Reinforcing IUPUI’s strategic goal of internationalization, the Confucius Institute—under Dr. Xu’s leadership—helped to strengthen the intellectual and cultural communities that distinguish the university and the city of Indianapolis. IUPUI's affiliation SYSU has resulted in study abroad opportunities, joint degree programs, Chinese language workshops, and proficiency testing for students and educators.
As a result of Dr. Xu’s vision, thousands of people have been engaged in learning about Chinese language and Chinese culture through Chinese classes at IUPUI, as well as Chinese Cultural Hours, the Indianapolis Chinese Festival, celebrations of the Lunar New Year, and outreach to K-12 students in Indianapolis. Xu assisted in the making of six documentaries with WFYI, including the Emmy-award winning “Waves of Fortune: China’s Maritime Silk Road.”
A medical doctor for nearly 40 years, Dr. Xu’s research focuses on understanding the pathogenesis of neurological disorders such as stroke and traumatic brain injury.
In 2013, Dr. Xu was honored with the John W. Ryan Award for Distinguished Contributions to International Programs and Studies.