Monday, May 12, 2008

Clayton State University Signs Faculty Exchange Agreement with Hunan University of Technology

Photo Caption: Standing across from one of the seven campuses of the Hunan University of Technology are (left to right); Dr. Zi Wan, HUT President Hanqing Wang, Dr. Thomas K. Harden, and HUT Vice President Taigang Liu.

Clayton State University President Dr. Thomas K. Harden and Assistant Professor of Marketing and Merchandising Dr. Zi Wan recently returned from the People’s Republic of China with a signed agreement that will open a new chapter in the University’s history.

Harden and Wan traveled to the city of ZhuZhou in Hunan Province to meet with officials of the Hunan University of Technology (HUT), returning with a signed agreement for an exchange of faculty members between the two institutions of
higher education. After a series of meetings with HUT President Hanqing Wang and HUT Vice President Taigang Liu, Harden and Wan finalized an arrangement whereby members of the Clayton State faculty will have the opportunity over varying periods of time to teach at HUT. In addition, HUT will later send faculty members to teach at Clayton State.

“Clayton State University is proud of our already-existing international flavor; including our international faculty, international students and the opportunities our American faculty and students have to teach and further their educations abroad through our Fulbright-Hays grants and our Study Abroad programs.,” says Harden. “This new relationship with the Hunan University of Technology promises to open some exciting new doors for both Clayton State and the region.”

Although Harden’s name is on the final document, he makes it clear that Wan’s efforts were vital to the success of this initiative. A native of Hunan Province who originally lived within 100 miles of ZhuZhou, and who speaks the same Chinese dialect as that spoken in ZhuZhou, Wan has been a faculty member in Clayton State’s College of Professional Studies since 2006, and is the coordinator of the University’s Chinese International Programs… a task she undertook almost as soon as she joined the Clayton State faculty, and a position she is uniquely qualified for, given her international background.

“As a graduate of universities in China, the UK and the USA, and having an extensive and strong network to work with many of the universities in Hunan Province, I am able to communicate, and to improve understanding between our university and HUT, which was critical in establishing the connection between the universities,” explains Wan. “If this connection is successful, it will allow us to go further with other Chinese universities.”

Wan previously worked for almost 10 years as a faculty member in the international education programs at Hunan University, one of the top universities in China and one of the oldest universities in the world. As a result of that experience, and through her background as an international student, she knows that China presents a huge international education market for Clayton State.

“I began to work and establish the cooperative international programs with China when I was first employed by Clayton State with the strong support of Dr. Harden and Provost Dr. Sharon Hoffman,” she says. “Without the support and help of Dr. Harden, Dr. Hoffman and Director of International Education Dr. Robert Welborn, all of whom put a lot of effort into the Chinese International Programs, we could not have had this achievement.

“I want to contribute to the benefit of both the USA and China, to promote closer international cooperation between the two institutions and to promote better understanding between the people of the United States and the People’s Republic of China through educational and cultural interchange.”

Wan and Welborn reported on their efforts to Dr. Richard Sutton, director of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia’s Office of International Education, in November 2007. Sutton noted at that time that, “this is a new model of international educational program in the University System of Georgia…”

The international educational partnership program between the Clayton State and HUT is on track to add another component, a curriculum agreement that would allow HUT students to finish their bachelor’s degrees at Clayton State. Shortly after returning to Georgia, Harden invited President Wang to personally come to Morrow to work out the final details of this second agreement.

“Someone has said, China is an IT society,” says Wan. “The people there are craving knowledge and information global-wide. In this sense, China is the biggest IT market globally. If we do not embrace the market, someone else will. The sooner we act, the better, if we believe that we have advanced knowledge or information.”

ZhuZhou is one of the most important transport hub cities in China, one of the first heavy industry cities developed after the founding of the PRC government in 1949. It has the population of 3,500,000 and it is located in southeastern China. Previously known as the ZhuZhou Institute of Technology, HUT has 35,000 students spread over seven campuses.

“Signing this agreement represents a substantive step in the cooperative international educational programs between Clayton State and HUT,” says Wan. “The signed agreement for the faculty exchange will no doubt enhance the communication and understanding between the two universities.”

Indeed, such is the understanding already that Harden and Wan have been honored by being appointed visiting professors of Hunan University of Technology. Because of her significant work in the Chinese International Program, Hoffman has also been honored by being appointed a visiting professor of Hunan University of Technology.

A unit of the University System of Georgia, Clayton State University is an outstanding, comprehensive metropolitan university located 15 miles southeast of downtown Atlanta.

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