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June 7, 2012
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab

SRU's China contingent expands talks

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - A contingent of Slippery Rock University faculty and administrators recently spent 10 days in China bringing home frameworks to develop and expand faculty and student exchanges and provide additional opportunities for SRU business students to study issues in the world's second largest economy.

"This year we focused on developing programs for business students and Kurt Schimmel, dean of our College of Business, Information and Social Sciences, had the opportunity to talk with officials at two Chinese universities about expanding opportunities for SRU business and other majors," said Pamela Frigot, director of SRU's International Service Office.

"We are already putting plans in place to provide added opportunities for students in my college, as well as those in other SRU majors such as tourism and resort management, to undertake studies at Chinese universities," Schimmel said.

The SRU contingent met with officials at Nanjing University, located in Nanjing, where SRU already has a number of program agreements, and with officials at Jiangsu Teacher's University of Technology located in Changzhou. The SRU group also met with administrators, faculty and students at four Chinese high schools, including one that focuses on foreign language studies.

JTUT, founded in 1984 is the only teacher-training university in Jiangsu. It currently enrolls 8,000 students and has some 650 teachers and staff.

"We began talks for establishing a partnership that could involve both faculty and students," Frigot said. "They have a hotel right on the campus, and that opens opportunities for our students involved with resort management studies," she said.

"We are thinking some kind of international business course involving global business perspectives would be a good beginning," Schimmel said. "The course could allow students to tour and meet with manufacturing officials, visit with various business leaders and develop ideas about international trade. We are also looking at a three-week intensive study course and how that might be implemented. I am hoping we could initiate the program with about 15 students, possibly as early as spring semester."

"For SRU students to see the massive construction under way in Chinese cities as well as the number of Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut outlets there would be an eye-opener as they consider global economies and investments," Frigot said.

"At Nanjing University, SRU is looking at a 2+2 program that would allow their students in business studies or other programs to undertake two years of coursework at their home university, and then spend two years at SRU completing their education. Nanjing already is involved in an exchange agreement with SRU that allows their Chinese language faculty to teach in SRU's modern language and cultures department," Frigot said.

"We will be spending time examining our curriculum and how it meshes with that at Nanjing University," Schimmel said. "Nanjing officials will be coming to the U.S. later this summer for meetings with other schools in which they are involved. We hope they will be able to make a Pittsburgh swing that would allow us to move forward on some of the details more quickly," he said.

George Brown, SRU professor of political science and a Chinese expert who leads SRU's Asian Studies Program, provided much of the cultural context for the tour group. Hongbo Zhou, an SRU assistant professor of computer science and China native, served as translator, organizer and representative for SRU's computer science programs.

"This trip was a continuation of an earlier visit by Susan Hannam, our dean of the College of Health, Environment and Science, which sought to initiate and expand student exchange programs. The process is slow because of all of the logistics that have to be worked out to ensure that quality education is part of the outcome," Frigot said.

While in China, the SRU officials met up with the nine SRU students and their professors who were studying geography and geology in the country. The student group had just spent the day at JTUT and reported one of their early highlights of their trip was the opportunity to see a typical day in the life of a Chinese student. They also participated in martial arts and calligraphy sessions.

Schimmel, on his first trip to China, said that in addition to the formal meetings, highlights of the trip included the chance to see the "Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses" collection depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China that dates to 210-209 BC, and a theater/dance performance and dim sum dinner.