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Tragedy brings two universities together

Li Guo’s work at Binghamton University will live on, thanks to an agreement the University has signed with the visiting research scholar’s home school, Shenzhen University in China.

Guo, who was one of 13 people killed by a gunman April 3 at the American Civic Association in Binghamton, was remembered at a memorial service held April 15 at the University Downtown Center. Visiting research scholar Almir Alves and Maria Zobniw ’70 were also killed.

The service was attended by Guo’s family; Shenzhen University officials; Binghamton University officials, faculty, staff and students; Wang Bangfu, counsel from the Chinese Consulate in New York; Binghamton Mayor Matthew T. Ryan; and state Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo.

Provost Mary Ann Swain paid tribute to Guo by saying her spirit is like a candle that continues to light up when someone tries to extinguish it: “It simply cannot be blown out,” she said.

“The Memorandum of Understanding that we have signed between our two universities will light a candle of deeper understanding in each individual from either of our countries who becomes part of our continuing partnership,” Swain said.

Gao Litian, dean of the international office at Shenzhen, said the two universities will start student and professor exchange programs.

“Probably by next summer, a group of Chinese students from Shenzhen University will be here,” he said. “And this winter vacation, a group of Binghamton University students will be at Shenzhen.”

Patricia Ingraham, dean of the College of Community and Public Affairs, said the agreement also will allow Shenzhen and CCPA faculty members to work together on research projects.

Swain, Ingraham, Litian and Ruan Shuang Chen, vice president of Shenzhen University, signed the agreement.

“(Li Guo) was here to establish partnerships between Binghamton and Shenzhen,” Ingraham said. “(This agreement) makes that vision a reality and ensures that we will continue our path together in the years to come.”

Guo taught math at Shenzhen, but came to Binghamton to see how public policy and administration is taught, Ingraham said. Guo spent much time attending public administration classes and learning instruction methods, she said.

“I’ve never seen someone so excited about case studies,” Ingraham said.
Guo had worked on establishing a partnership between the universities with the help of Thomas Sinclair, associate professor in public administration, Ingraham said. Sinclair visited Shenzhen earlier this year.

“In her short time at Binghamton, she embraced two universities and pulled them together,” Sinclair said during the memorial. “She was a problem solver and a person of action.”

Ingraham was touched by the number of guests who attended the service and praised the role of the Shenzhen officials.

“It was really remarkable,” she said. “They said we will make this something positive and finalize (the agreement) while here.”

The service ended with a memorial tree planting and the unveiling of two plaques — one for Guo and another for all of the shooting victims — behind the Downtown Center.

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Last Updated: 10/14/08