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China Institute Growth

Since its inception, the University of Dayton China Institute has experienced steady growth and now, at its fifth anniversary, is launching new programs and partnerships.

Students can earn a new minor — Studies in Design and Entrepreneurship in China — in one fall semester at the Institute, which is located in the ultramodern Suzhou Industrial Park, home to a third of the world's Fortune 500 companies.

Julia Kokenge, a junior studying business marketing, is among the first students in the program, which explores China from the perspectives of art, philosophy, sociology, business and design.

“As a business major, going to China just makes sense,” she said. “Not only do you have the chance to further your personal development by expanding your horizons, but you also get to exploit numerous professional prospects including onsite visits with some of the world’s Fortune 500 companies.”

The minor, which is open to students from any major, is just one way the Institute is helping students gain an international perspective for today’s job market. Students in the finance graduate program started their studies at the China Institute this summer and continue on the Dayton campus this fall as part of a new program.

A new partnership with Northeastern University allows students, including those from China, to begin their studies with University of Dayton faculty at the Institute and finish their degrees at Northeastern. The list of partner universities has also grown to include Marian University in Indiana, the University of Central Florida, Canisius College, Xi'an International Studies University, Fujian Normal University, Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications and the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China.

The China Institute piloted an experiential learning program last spring, which exposed students to international business projects through partners such as Black & Decker, Crown Equipment, Emerson Climate Technologies and Jabil Green Point in Suzhou.

Students from the Rivers Institute also did their studies on Suzhou and its waters this summer in China and will serve as ambassadors for an exhibit “Heritage Today: The Grand Canal of China” at Roesch Library opening Oct. 23. This exhibition is part of a larger interactive multimedia database and platform of the Grand Canal of China, a UNESCO World Heritage site, led by Weiping Wang, dean of the China Institute, in partnership with Nanjing University, Nanjing University of the Arts, Tshinghua University, and Nanjing Museum, one of China’s largest museums.

Communication lecturer Cassandra Secrease said students who study at the Institute benefit greatly from experiences outside the classroom, including hiking in Yellow Mountain, visiting local museums and other immersive experiences.

“Most students report that they come to a deeper understanding of their home culture(s) by living and studying elsewhere,” she said. “The appreciation for different perspectives and seeing how other people experience the world is priceless.”

There are benefits for faculty, too, Secrease said.

“The China Institute has developed partnerships with other universities in China such as Nanjing University, and part of the partnership includes bringing in exceptionally talented professors to teach in their specialty at the Institute,” she said. “Working alongside these folks is inspiring and they enrich the faculty experience.”

University faculty who teach at the Institute include former University President Daniel J. Curran, who is leading two courses this fall as part of the new minor. Marketing professor Terence Lau also joins the China Institute this fall as executive director of academic and corporate relations to support faculty and build more experiential learning opportunities for students.

The China Institute also continues to work with partners in the Suzhou Industrial Park, who were instrumental in the University being the first American school to locate there. Park officials handpicked the University for the opportunity in 2012 and provided $1 million in support and a five-story, 68,000-square-foot building for classrooms, engineering and science laboratories, and project space. The University was able to purchase the building in 2016 with support of a $7 million gift from Fuyao Glass America.

“It’s uncommon for a University of our size to have an international center with such strong relationships to multinational companies and professors in the areas of innovation, product development and education,” said Sean McCarthy, assistant director of China initiatives. “We are really breaking the traditional model of education abroad in a way that is accessible and affordable to any student.”


News and Communications Staff