Over There, Over Here

09.26.2012 | International, Hot Topics, Faculty, Students, Campus and Community, Culture and Society

Days before the grand opening of the University of Dayton China Institute in Suzhou Industrial Park, a delegation from the University of Dayton had an unexpected surprise while touring Nanjing.

As the bus snaked through the quiet streets, another bus pulled up next to it. From the neighboring bus, Kurt Jackson leaped out of his seat, pointed excitedly to his University of Dayton T-shirt and waved with a big grin.

Jackson — a physical therapy professor — and seven doctor of physical therapy students were spending a few weeks with the faculty at Nanjing Medical University, learning how China is blending ancient medical practices with Western-style physical therapy.

Two groups from the same campus on the other side of the world bumping into each other on the streets of Nanjing: a telling example of the University of Dayton's growing relationship with China, both at home and abroad.

Over here

Since 2010, the number of students from China who attend the University of Dayton has more than tripled, from 222 to 738. About 13 percent of the University's students hail from another country, and half of these international students come from China.

It's not just students; faculty with connections to China are also joining the University of Dayton community.

Dainmin Wang is a visiting scholar from Nanjing who will be on campus the next two years teaching Mandarin Chinese. And assistant professor Aimei Yang was hired this fall to teach public relations.

Yang was born and raised in Yunnan Province in southwestern China, home to several of the country's minority ethnic groups. Her experience as a member of one of these groups shaped her perspective on life, guiding her into a career path that includes the study of the use of stereotypes in advertising.

"It's not just the quantity of international presence on campus that matters, but the quality of that presence," Yang said. "I look forward to being part of the interaction and engagement on campus between both domestic and international students."

Paul Benson, the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said the rise in faculty with well developed international and intercultural research has been intentional.

"For every faculty position we hire, we ask whether candidates can contribute to students' global learning, to the internationalization of the curriculum in the faculty members' departments and to potential international research or teaching collaborations," Benson said.

This focus is increasing for other areas of campus, as well.

School of Engineering Dean Tony Saliba said it is critical to integrate global and cultural education into the development of technical, entrepreneurial, innovation and leadership skills for engineering students.

"Engineering is a global profession," he said. "Our faculty and staff population has always been rich in cultural and international diversity, and our international activities now allow our students to experience this richness both on campus and in immersion programs across the globe."

In between

The Global Education Seminar recruits a cohort of eight faculty from a variety of academic departments for a year-long study of another country, culminating in a three-week visit to the country. The program was launched in 2010, with the first two cohorts visiting China in the summers of 2011 and 2012.

After completing the program, faculty were asked to create a plan with specific proposals for collaborative projects in China and revisions to the University’s curriculum to enhance internationalization.

"There is great value to have study-abroad programs for students, but we can have a greater effect on more students if we change the way we teach in the classrooms here on campus," said Don Pair, associate dean for integrated learning and curriculum in the College of Arts and Sciences. "The effects are immediate: faculty from the first cohort have already changed what they are doing in the classroom as a result of their experience."

Over there

On Aug. 8, the University celebrated the grand opening of the University of Dayton China Institute in Suzhou Industrial Park, 75 miles from the world's busiest port in Shanghai.

Researchers and faculty from partner industries and universities are expected to share lab and office space in the five-story, 68,000-square-foot building, as the University taps into local expertise to collaborate on product development and teach courses.

Plans are in the works to develop internships and co-ops at partner companies and to launch a six-week summer program in Suzhou.

"China is such an economic force in the world that we should be there," said University President Daniel J. Curran. "The China Institute is part of a larger globalization strategy that includes increasing our presence in numerous parts of the world. We're taking a holistic view of international education, and this is one piece."

Several other pieces of this international strategy can be found elsewhere in China. Since 2003, the University has created several opportunities for exchange and research collaboration.

Nanjing Medical University, where Jackson and his students were working, is one of seven universities in China with whom the University of Dayton is a partner.

Jackson said his trips to China include visiting hospitals and rehab clinics in Nanjing, giving lectures to Chinese faculty and students and, in turn, listening to their faculty make presentations on acupuncture and tai chi.

"It's given our students a global perspective on rehabilitation, how it's both similar and different in other countries," Jackson said. "They also get a better understanding of how health care systems are managed and resources are utilized."

Since October 2003, students at Shanghai Normal University in China can apply for a joint degree program leading to a B.S. in engineering technology in either electronic or manufacturing engineering technology from both SHNU and the University of Dayton. Students take their first three years of classes at SHNU and transfer to the University of Dayton for their final year.

For more information, contact Cameron Fullam, assistant director of media relations, at 937-229-3256 or fullam@udayton.edu.