The NMU delegation met with representatives from Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China. Pictured (from left) are: an unidentified Chinese graduate student; Cindy Kleinschmidt, Renxin Yang, Dr. Thomas Schacht, Cynthia Prosen and Jeff Kleinschmidt of NMU; Philos Wong, vice-dean of English language education; Les Wong, Phyllis Wong, Z.Z. Lehmberg, Gavin Leach, an unidentified Chinese graduate student, and Ma "Mark" Jianping.
China Trip Reviewed
A Northern delegation’s recent trip to China and the opportunities explored for partnering with educational and corporate entities was the main focus of Wednesday’s university forum.
President Les Wong said there were palpable differences associated with China’s “red-hot, hyper economy” compared with his three previous visits to the country before joining NMU.
“The energy and sense of optimism and knowledge that they are at the center of the world’s economy was so obvious wherever we went,” he said. “The building going on in the cities, the investments they’re making in higher education and K-12, and their efforts to transform into a modern culture all made me speechless. New campuses are being constructed everywhere. Jilin University has an enrollment of about 8,000. That campus is in the midst of a two-year construction program with the goal of reaching 20,000 students by the end of those two years.”
Wong said one of the main reasons for the trip was a meeting with representatives of Lenovo, the corporation whose name appears on the notebook computers issued to most NMU students.
“I wanted to put in front of that group two things: becoming a model campus for sales and product development worldwide; and possibly establishing a closer research, development and teaching relationship between NMU and Lenovo International. Every signal we received – from the corporate structure there to Lenovo USA – was ‘absolutely.’ I said our campus would be more than willing to test any products they develop. Those could include phones, laptops, desktops and servers.
“We also talked about a partnership based on the company’s connection with the Olympics and our connection with the USOEC. Could we leverage their coaches and athletes training on campus? Could our students be interns at the 2008 Olympics? We also looked at co-branding. They filmed a commercial here at NMU with the speedskaters. It was so successful, they’re planning to do more on campus in advance of the 2008 Summer Games. I’ve never seen a culture more obsessed with the Olympics than China.”
Wong said NMU established a “memorandum of understanding” with Beijing Sports University to facilitate faculty and student exchanges and to explore additional opportunities. He said other Chinese higher education institutions agreed on an informal basis to continued interaction with NMU.
“I think it was very successful. In many ways, it was a positive first step. You don’t just go to China and expect to achieve something right off the bat. It’s a long process, but we’re positioned well to have future conversations with them in many different ways.”
In addition to Les and Phyllis Wong, other members of the NMU delegation were Ma “Mark” Jianping (USOEC), Cindy Kleinschmidt (Charter Schools), Jeff Kleinschmidt (USOEC), Gavin Leach (Finance and Planning), Z.Z. Lehmberg (English), Cindy Prosen (Graduate Studies, Research and Continuing Education), Dr. Tom Schacht (Health Center) and Renxin Yang (Sociology/Social Work).