March 18, 2005

SIUC's campus in Nakajo, Japan will close in May 2006

by Tom Woolf

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale's branch campus in Nakajo, Japan, will close at the end of the 2005-2006 school year.

Now in its 17th year, the Nakajo branch campus, in the Niigata prefecture on Japan's western coast was one of 36 opened by American universities in the late 1980s. SIUC and Temple Universities remain.

The Pacific School Entity is the Japanese organization that contracts with SIUC for academic programs and student services. There is no cost to Illinois taxpayers for the program, which has brought more than $41 million in contracts to the University.

According to Larry H. Dietz, SIUC's vice chancellor for student affairs and enrollment management, Japanese officials made the decision to terminate the program.

"Low enrollments resulting from changes in demographics, changes in the interests of Japanese students and unfavorable economic conditions in Japan have resulted in large deficits for our partner organization, the Pacific School Entity," Dietz said.

He noted that Nakajo leaders and citizens remain interested in continuing other activities with the University, such as the Youth Abroad and International Studies in Japan programs.

More than 2,200 Japanese students received training on the Nakajo campus over the past 17 years, with more than 900 transferring to the Carbondale campus to complete their undergraduate programs. More than 20 students completed master's degrees and two completed their doctoral degrees.

More than 300 U.S. students studied on the Nakajo campus through the International Studies in Japan Program. More than 300 faculty and staff from SIUC have worked on the Nakajo campus since it opened.

"Hundreds of school children and citizens from Carbondale and Nakajo Town have participated in exchanges between the two cities in cooperation with the SIUC in Niigata program," Dietz noted. Carbondale and Nakajo are sister cities.

Dietz also noted the program was well received by the Japanese.

"United States flags and welcome signs of all sorts adorned practically every shop and lamp post as the first teachers from Carbondale and students from Japan arrived for the first term," he said.

A new $55 million, Japanese-owned campus opened two years after classes started. Enrollment on the Nakajo campus peaked at 630 in 1990, but has been in decline since then. Until 2001, the program received heavy subsidies from the local Japanese governments, and the Pacific School Entity also borrowed heavily to pay for the program.

Dietz lauded the efforts of Jared Dorn, director of SIUC's International Programs and Services, who headed the program in Japan for 10 years.

"His knowledge of the culture, language and his administrative skill were critical in developing and maintaining this program when others were closing," Dietz said.