President Merten Looks to Expand University’s Far East Connections

Posted: July 21, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Daniel Walsch

George Mason President Alan Merten is China-bound.

For three weeks this fall, Mason’s president travels to the Far East to raise the university’s international profile and help strengthen and explore new educational linkages with institutions in China, Korea, and Taiwan. He will be meeting with university representatives, business, government, and community leaders, Mason graduates, and even prospective students.

His itinerary includes stops in Shanghai (Oct. 17-20); Beijing (Oct. 21-26); Seoul and Busan, Korea (Oct. 27-Nov. 1); and Taipei and Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

Alan Merten
President Alan Merten

“This is a great opportunity for George Mason to further solidify the many partnerships our faculty have been creating,” says Merten. “I am looking forward to helping give this significant aspect of our institution greater visibility.”

As is the case with many large universities and colleges in the United States, according to Madelyn Ross, China coordinator in the Office of the Provost, Mason has developed a number of longstanding connections with the Far East over the past 20 years. These include everything from study abroad programs, student and faculty exchanges, and joint research projects to cosponsorship of conferences and joint academic programs.

Ross, who assumed her coordinating position last year, says, “One of the exciting things about Mason’s various Asia connections is that so many of our academic areas are represented.” These include the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Education and Human Development, College of Nursing and Health Science, College of Visual and Performing Arts, School of Computational Sciences, School of Information Technology and Engineering, School of Management, School of Public Policy, and the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution.

“Higher education in China is expanding rapidly, and many Chinese universities are reaching out to foreign schools to help strengthen course offerings and raise their prestige,” says Ross. “At the same time, Mason’s own international vision is also growing, particularly as it applies to the Far East. Presently, we have approximately 230 students from China and Taiwan, many in advanced graduate programs. And our Chinese language courses now enroll nearly 300 students.”

Following is a small representative sampling of Mason’s various Chinese connections that are either under way or are in the planning stages:

  • Mason has been offered an opportunity to participate in the Extended Sino-American Leadership Training Initiative being arranged by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. Mason will be one of 10 U.S. colleges that host Chinese university leaders under this program.
  • The English Language Institute is exploring opportunities to offer courses in China as well as training courses for English teachers bound for China.
  • The university may work with a consortium of Chinese universities on a dual degree program for exceptional students from China who would spend two of their undergraduate years at their home school and two years at Mason.
  • The Schools of Information Technology and Engineering, Management, and Public Policy are exploring opportunities to offer joint academic programs in China.
  • The School of Computational Sciences’ faculty has numerous research exchanges and agreements with China, particularly in geosciences and remote sensing.

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