May 06, 2008

Exchange program with Taiwan university growing

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A dozen additional students from Taiwan will join the student body at Southern Illinois University Carbondale this fall after officials from SIUC and a Taiwan university worked out details of a growing exchange program.

Shing-Chung "Max" Yen, director of the Materials Technology Center at SIUC, said he and other campus leaders, including Interim Chancellor Samuel Goldman, recently met with several leaders from I-Shou University in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, when they visited SIUC. The group discussed expanding student and faculty relations, as well as designing integrated curriculums.

I-Shou already sends about 15 students each year to SIUC to study at the University's Center for English as a Second Language. But starting this fall, another dozen I-Shou students will begin studying at SIUC for at least one year as that university begins an international studies program.

The students will study a variety of subjects at SIUC, including occupational therapy, radiology, English, chemistry and business administration, among others, Yen said. Of the 16 students I-Shou is sending overseas on scholarships, 12 will go to SIUC, he said, reflecting the preparation the University has invested in the cooperative arrangements.

"We get 12 this time, but we may get many more in the future," said Yen, who along with others at SIUC has worked for years on creating cooperative arrangements with Asian universities. "This will help SIUC in several ways. They will send us their best and brightest students. This increases the number of students who come here and also increases the quality of our students and the marketability of our programs."

Along with those benefits, Yen said the move will help increase SIUC's presence in the global agenda sought by many institutions of higher learning these days. That idea focuses students on learning the cultures and mindset of different countries to better prepare them for the global marketplace. In this particular instance, American students will learn more about the technical focus of Asian engineering universities, while Asian students will learn about the American emphasis on leadership, communications and entrepreneurial skills.

"We are understanding there are new ways to bring both of these together," Yen said. "Students today need to learn how to position themselves. They need to understand new cultures, political structures and economics to succeed. At SIUC, they will see the true America."

The additional students, however, may only be the beginning. Yen said the leaders also discussed several future cooperative arrangements that might send hundreds of students to SIUC, and SIUC faculty overseas to teach a semester at I-Shou.

I-Shou developing an international college might mean many more students spending at least one year at SIUC, Yen said. Also, because courses within that college will be in English, SIUC faculty members might be tapped to teach a semester or more overseas, he said.

"It could be a great opportunity for our faculty members here, and might be done as a reward mechanism, for example," he said.

I-Shou and SIUC have many common areas of study, Yen said, including engineering, management, medicine, communications and hospitality. All such programs have the potential to develop such cooperative arrangements, Yen said. I-Shou also is building a 700-room, five-star hotel on site for its hospitality programs and has a first-class teaching hospital, too. SIUC students might have a chance to use such facilities during their studies, for instance.

The two I-Shou officials who visited SIUC, Hsiang-Chen Hsu, secretary general (chief of staff) and Claudia Hui-Lan Chao, former head of international programs, also examined SIUC's curriculum in order to better prepare students for the program, Yen said.

During the two-day trip, the I-Shou officials met with Goldman, Interim Provost and Vice Chancellor Don Rice, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Larry H. Dietz, Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Dean John A. Koropchak, as well as several deans and others.

"Their visit was really too short, there is so much to do and see here at SIUC," Yen said. "And everything is moving at lightning speed."