USC Upstate Delegation Visits China: Celebrates 50 Year Anniversary of Partner Campus, Forges Plans for Business School Exchanges
Spartanburg, S.C. - The Chancellor of the University of South Carolina Upstate, Dr. John Stockwell, together with Dr. Regis Robe, director of the Center for International Studies, recently returned from a five day trip to Lin’an, China, home of the 18,000-student Zhejiang Forestry University in Zhejiang Province southwest of China’s major port city of Shanghai, where they attended the university’s 50th anniversary celebration.
Stockwell and Robe, in addition to their counterparts from universities in six other countries, were guests at the day-long celebration of ZFU’s founding on October 25, 2008. Forestry in the university’s name represents its founding discipline, though the institution now is a major comprehensive university.
“Like everything in China, it was massive,” says Robe, in describing the day’s events in the filled-to-capacity soccer stadium on the university’s campus. “There were balloons, decorations, flowers everywhere and a very, very large crowd,” he adds.
The streets leading to the soccer stadium were lined with women in traditional silk gowns, and the ceremony featured waves of flag carriers, two nationally known singers, large numbers of ZFU alumni and current students, party leaders, government officials, and the heads of universities from around the world. The event was staged and choreographed by a video producer, complete with boom microphones and video cameras, according to Stockwell who delivered a congratulatory speech to the crowd as part of the program.
ZFU is one of twelve universities worldwide that USC Upstate has partnership agreements allowing for the exchange of students in travel/study abroad programs. Despite being a young partnership between the two campuses, Stockwell and Robe feel that USC Upstate and ZFU have formed a strong relationship at a pivotal time for US-China relations.
“We are careful to enter into partnerships with universities that really want to be partners,” according to Stockwell. Robe says that ZFU was chosen from among five possible campuses in China because “the people we met at ZFU, we connected well with them…and their personnel and administration are very agreeable and hospitable to our students.”
In 2006, a delegation that included the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Dr. Reginald Avery and Dr. Darrell Parker, dean of the George Dean Johnson, Jr. College of Business and Economics, visited with the vice president of ZFU in Lin’an, initiating the discussion that led to a memorandum of understanding in April 2007 and the formal collaborative agreement between the two universities in June 2008. Yiwei Qiu, director of the international office at ZFU, visited USC Upstate in April 2008 to gain a better understanding of USC Upstate and to explore the possibility of expanding the exchange initiatives between the universities.
“It takes those acquaintances at that top level to make the partnership grow,” says Stockwell.
One area that both universities are planning to strengthen is the relationship between the business schools of the two institutions.
“We would like to see USC Upstate students have the opportunity to study abroad because of the globalization of the business world,” says Robe, who returned from the October trip with a lengthy list of business school-related initiatives the two universities plan to develop.
The list includes a bi-lingual Chinese faculty member who will be invited to guest lecture at the Johnson College in the area of international business from a Chinese perspective. USC Upstate has also been asked to serve in an advisory role in the technical, educational, administrative, and infrastructure development of the 80-mile economic corridor between Lin’an and Hangzhou. Details of a summer certificate program are being finalized for 2009 in which 10-15 Chinese business students will take business classes on the USC Upstate campus during the week, and enjoy cultural excursions on the weekends. Future discussions will explore the possibility of faculty exchanges and the offering of master’s degrees.
“Our business students need to understand how business takes place in China because that will impact how business is done in the Upstate,” says Parker. He adds that China’s rapidly growing economy is impacting world markets, and USC Upstate students will benefit from the knowledge that can only come from first hand exposure to Chinese culture, markets and business methods.
Xian native Sirui Gao is in her senior year in the Johnson College, studying for her bachelor of science in business administration with a concentration in management, and working part-time in the Center for International Studies. Already equipped with international textile trading experience from working summers with the Xian International Trading Import & Export Company, as well as strong bilingual language skills, Gao is excited to be involved with the Center for International Studies as it expands its Chinese study abroad program.
“I want to be able to live and work in both China and America,” says this 25 year old who knows that companies in both countries value employees at the management level who have work and educational backgrounds on both continents as well as combinations of technical and management skills. Her work at the Center allows her to interact with fellow Chinese students, introduce them to the campus, help with course selection, and serve with translating and interpreting as needed.
Since the fall of 2007 when the agreement between the two universities was made official, three USC Upstate students have studied at ZFU and eight Chinese students have studied at USC Upstate.
For further information, contact Dr. Regis Robe, director of the Center for International Studies at (864) 503-5630, or Dr. Darrell Parker, dean of the Johnson College of Business and Economics at (864) 503-5566.