Recruitment efforts seek global diversity

Kristyn Soltis

World ties also help send students abroad

Kent State students may have more study abroad opportunities in the future as a result of the administration and Office of International Affairs’ goals to broaden the university’s international relations.

Mary Anne Saunders, director of the Office of International Affairs, said there is interest in expanding Kent State’s recruiting efforts to reach other countries such as Mexico, Canada, Taiwan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Russia and India.

“Part of what I’m trying to do right now and part of the goals and objectives that the provost has given me is to expand our recruitment efforts so that we don’t have a huge percentage of our international students from just one country,” she said.

Currently, Kent State has a center in China, but this center doesn’t offer courses for students. Rather, the center recruits students to Kent State.

“It’s much more difficult to persuade Kent State students to go to China,” Saunders said. “We hope to expand that.”

Kent State has a close relationship with Shanghai International Studies University, whose vice president, Shuguang Zhang Jong, visited Kent State last week.

Bei Cai is a full-time tenured professor at the Kent State Stark Campus. After almost two years as director of the Kent State Beijing Center, she will be returning home.

“She has a family here, we can’t keep her stranded,” said Mary Anne Saunders, director of the Office of International Affairs.

A new director has already been chosen. Dr. Michael Zhou is an American citizen living in Beijing and will begin his duties as director this month.

“We are so fortunate he applied for this position because I couldn’t have dreamed of a person who fit my wish list any better,” Saunders said.

Zhou will be in charge of recruiting Chinese students to attend Kent State.

Cai will return as a professor in communications at the Stark campus.

“Kent State, to me, is one of those institutions of higher education with a strong commitment for internationalizing higher education,” Jong said. “This is one thing that fits our strengths as well as goals very well. One objective that I expect to accomplish here is to further the collaborative. We’ve been working together very well.”

This year, there are 12 undergraduate students and four faculty members from SISU at Kent State.

Jong hopes to not only send more students and faculty to Kent State, but to recruit students to SISU – a goal echoed by Saunders.

“What we would love to do is see some of our students go to SISU and study Chinese and Chinese culture, and we’re working on that,” she said.

President Lester Lefton said there would likely be attempts made to send students to China; however, he said it’s much more complicated because of the language, culture and cost.

Jong said the difficulty of learning Chinese may be preventing students to attend SISU, but he also said he believes it may have something to do with how much Kent State students are exposed to Shanghai, specifically SISU.

“That’s my fault,” Jong said. “I should be able to do a better job in promoting the university and international exchange program. In the future we want to.”

Jong said he also hopes the launch of the Confucius Institute will help promote the student exchange program.

Starting in the spring, the Confucius Institute Project will offer two China Today workshops online through the Cultural Foundations program.

Although Jong’s recent trip was strictly to deal with administrative issues, he said he hopes to meet with students when he comes back to give a presentation where he will discuss any concerns and address more specific plans for studying abroad.

“It’s not just you spend a few months there, or a few weeks there,” Jong said. “You go there to learn about culture and people and form relationships, and that will help you understand a culture that may be different from you.”

Currently, SISU has 1,200 international students from 37 different countries.

SISU also has relationships in the U.S. with the University of Denver, University of Colorado, University of Kentucky and several small colleges, but Jong said none of SISU’s relationships with these universities has shown such enormous potential to grow as the relationship with Kent State.

Contact administration reporter Kristyn Soltis at [email protected].