China 1+2+1=10: Dual Degree Program Marks Decade of Global Partnerships

George Mason University’s largest dual degree program is celebrating a special anniversary as it welcomes its 10th cohort this fall semester. Forty-one Chinese students will arrive Aug. 17 on George Mason’s Fairfax Campus to join the China 1+2+1 Program—proving George Mason’s success in building a global presence.

Mason’s China 1+2+1 Program will welcome its 10th cohort in August. Earlier this summer in Beijing, the new class met Madelyn Ross (on left) and Lisa O’Hara (on right) from Mason’s Office of Global Strategy.

Mason’s China 1+2+1 Program will welcome its 10th cohort in August. Earlier this summer in Beijing, the new class met Madelyn Ross (on left) and Lisa O’Hara (on right) from Mason’s Office of Global Strategy.

The undergraduates will attend Mason for two to three years, then attend their home university in China for one-and-a-half to two years. They will work on degrees in art and visual technology, communication, computer science, economics, electrical engineering, finance, global affairs, management, marketing and music. Since the first cohort of the China 1+2+1 Program arrived at Mason in 2005, economics has been the most popular major, followed by finance and then computer science.

Mason’s China 1+2+1 Program has graduated more than 200 students. Forty of those graduated this summer, including 22 who attended the graduation ceremony of the Inner Mongolia University of Technology in Hohhot. On hand to award degrees were Madelyn Ross, director of Mason’s China Initiatives and Mason’s Global Problem Solving Consortium; Sarah Nutter, dean of Mason’s School of Business; and Lisa O’Hara, international programs administrator in Mason’s Office of Global Strategy.

“It was a pleasure meeting the high-achieving group of 41 new students in China this summer, and then attending the graduation ceremony of those from earlier cohorts who had completed the program and earned two degrees—one from Mason and one from their Chinese home university,” says O’Hara. “The continued academic excellence of many of the China 1+2+1 students has earned this program the reputation of being an honors program.”

Diane Wang, Mason’s China 1+2+1 coordinator since it began, says this year’s graduates were honored for excellence in finance, economics, computer science, art and visual technology, global affairs and computational and data science.

Over the years, seven China 1+2+1 graduates have returned to Mason to earn master’s degrees. Others have gone on to attend other top graduate schools in the United States including Harvard, Cornell, Columbia, Carnegie Mellon, Vanderbilt, Purdue, Fordham, George Washington and Johns Hopkins.

Some of the newest graduates of Mason’s China 1+2+1 Program are awarded diplomas by Sarah Nutter, dean of Mason’s School of Business (left), and Jiang Xinghong, Soochow University vice president (right), at a ceremony in Hohhot.

Some of the newest graduates of Mason’s China 1+2+1 Program are awarded diplomas by Sarah Nutter, dean of Mason’s School of Business (left), and Jiang Xinghong, Soochow University vice president (right), at a ceremony in Hohhot.

Xiaoxiao Zhang has been accepted to Johns Hopkins to work on her master’s degree in international relations. She was part of this summer’s China 1+2+1 graduating class. Zhang earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from Shandong University and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Mason.

“I spent the most unforgettable two years of my life at Mason,” says Zhang, originally from Jinan in Shandong Province. “In addition to the solid academic training, I gained a wonderful cultural experience by immersing myself in all kinds of school events and student activities. China 1+2+1 successfully made me stand out in this year’s graduate school application and is making me more confident to achieve my career goals of consulting work in energy/environmental issues and poverty alleviation.”

Other Mason China 1+2+1 graduates have joined top graduate schools around the world including University of Cambridge, King’s College in London, University of Melbourne, University of Sydney and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Some have earned or are working on PhDs.

Wang says past graduates also have returned to China to work in fields such as—but not limited to— banking, finance and family business.

It’s not all about hitting the books. The program bridges cultural gaps, fosters friendships and even leads to some matches. Two China 1+2+1 graduates got married, while another China 1+2+1 student married a Mason classmate.

Mason’s China 1+2+1 undergraduate program is a part of the Sino-American 1+2+1 Dual Degree Program, under the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, and the China Center for International Educational Exchange. The program includes 20 universities in the United States and 89 in China. Students earn dual degrees from a U.S. institution and from a Chinese institution.

By Sudha Kamath; Original Article posted on Mason NewsDesk.

Provost Peter Stearns Blogs On China 1+2+1

Quite a few people know about this highly successful program, but a further shout out is appropriate. The program, now in its 9th year at Mason, has brought 264 Chinese students to Mason from a variety of interesting Chinese universities. The students spend their first year in China, come here for two or more years, return for their final year at their Chinese institution, and if successful (as about 150 have already been) graduate with two degrees. A joint research project in their final year is part of the program.

The program is framed by an arrangement between the American Association of State College and Universities and the Chinese Ministry of Education, and Mason has established strong links with both parties in the process. Madelyn Ross and Diane Wang in the Global Office have devoted great effort to the program, along with a host of Mason faculty and staff.

The results have exceeded our original expectations in many ways. The students themselves have been very strong, with only a handful of exceptions. They often find they need a bit of further work on English when they get here, which they pursue quite diligently. They have majored in all sorts of things, with an interesting preference for economics but with interests also in Global Affairs, Music, Computer Science, Management and other areas. Their grade point average has been higher than that of international students in general, which is in turn higher than the overall Mason level. Individual students have won top honors as economics majors, and Mason 1-2-1 students have won a disproportionate share of program awards back in China. The annual graduation ceremony in China has become something of a Mason event.

But it’s more than grades and purely academic performance. Students have been very active in campus organizations and in off-campus opportunities, for example with Habitat for Humanity and Freedom House. They have helped tutor in Chinese courses. Not surprisingly, many of the graduates have done very well in graduate school placements, from Harvard to Hopkins to Mason itself, and in getting good jobs. We now have dozens of Mason grads in promising positions in China, a not insignificant token for the future. And our alumni base is strong and enthusiastic, another platform for further activity.

Wider benefits result also. The program has spurred a number of other China connections, including scholarships for Mason American students in China and, beginning next year, slots for Mason faculty visiting our counterpart universities.

Like many international programs, this one has its complexities, and there was some initial concern about the unknowns involved — as is so often the case with global ventures. But the strengths of the program have persuaded almost all the initial skeptics. The biggest current challenge, which we’re discussing actively, involves the high levels of demand from China, and whether to expand a bit in future. Chalk this one up on the clearly positive side, thanks to lots of good collaborators and, above all, the quality and risk-taking of the students themselves.

Popular Dual Degree Program Brings Many Chinese Students to Mason

One of the things Mason senior Zhichao “Frank” Cong noticed immediately on his arrival on the Mason campus from Shaanxi Normal University in Xi’an, China, was the remarkable diversity of the student population.

“Mason is much more diversified than where I go to school in China,” says Cong who is majoring in finance. “I really like it here. I learn a lot about different cultures, about African American and other cultures. And I have a lot of new friends here.”

Mason senior Zhichao “Frank” Cong is one of 107 Chinese students attending Mason as part of the popular U.S.-China Undergraduate Transfer Program.

Mason senior Zhichao “Frank” Cong is one of 107 Chinese students attending Mason as part of the popular U.S.-China Undergraduate Transfer Program.

But Cong won’t complete his degree at Mason. Instead, he will return home to China and finish his undergraduate career at Shaanxi Normal. Cong is one of 107 Chinese students at Mason who participate in the increasingly popular U.S.-China Undergraduate Transfer Program, formerly called the 1+2+1 Dual Degree program. The name was changed this year to reflect the fact that many students stay in the United States longer than two years to finish their U.S. university requirements, before going back to spend their final year of the program in China.

“Actually, many of the students are here longer than the two years,” says Madelyn C. Ross, the director of China Initiatives for Mason’s Office of Global and International Strategies. “They’re here for two-and-a-half, three, or even four years, and many of them return to the United States for grad school after they finish the program in China.”

Including Haoxiao Yu, the finance major who presented this year’s valedictory speech at the program’s graduation ceremony in China. Now that she’s completed her final year in China, she’s returned to the United States and studies in the master’s program at the Kennedy School at Harvard University. Others have returned to pursue graduate degrees from Cornell University, Columbia University, Johns Hopkins University, Mason, and more.

Mason is one of 15 U.S. schools that participate in the 1+2+1 program, but, says Ross, “Mason is annually in very high demand. Students like our reputation and our global diversity, including the fact that there are 300 other students on campus with Chinese passports. They also like that we’re close to Washington.”

Mason is one of 15 U.S. schools that participate in the 1+2+1 program, but, says Ross, “Mason is annually in very high demand. Students like our reputation and our global diversity, including the fact that there are 300 other students on campus with Chinese passports. They also like that we’re close to Washington.” With the 43 new arrivals this semester, there are now 107 China 1+2+1 students living in residence halls “to get the full Mason experience,” says Ross. The program began in 2004 with agreements among Mason and five Chinese universities. The first 16 students arrived in August 2005, but the numbers expanded rapidly. Since 2005, more than 260 1+2+1 students have studied at Mason.

From left, Mason students Xiaoxiao Zhang and Xiaohan Li work with Madelyn Ross, Mason’s director of China Initiatives, and the program coordinator Diane Wang.

With the 43 new arrivals this semester, there are now 107 China 1+2+1 students living in residence halls “to get the full Mason experience,” says Ross.

The program began in 2004 with agreements among Mason and five Chinese universities. The first 16 students arrived in August 2005, but the numbers expanded rapidly. Since 2005, more than 260 1+2+1 students have studied at Mason.

“There are 85 China universities participating in the program, and we accept students from only 20,” says Ross. “Every year more schools ask to send students to Mason. It’s raised our profile among a large number of China universities.”

Some of the Chinese students from the dual degree program meet and socialize outside of Starbucks on the Fairfax Campus.

Some of the Chinese students from the dual degree program meet and socialize outside of Starbucks on the Fairfax Campus.

This June, 45 Mason students received their degrees at the annual graduation ceremony in China.

The students, most of whom have a firm command of English and polish it with a semester or two at Mason’s English Language Institute, are motivated by the chance to learn at Mason, and once they get here, they don’t often let up. In fact, when they discover the opportunities available to them, they flourish.

“What sets the program apart is we draw the top academic students who are also very engaged on campus,” says Ross.

Cong says he joined “a lot of organizations” while at Mason. “I tried to make a difference. I was encouraged to do an internship and develop my leadership.”

Cong became treasurer of Phi Kappa Phi Business Honor Society, joined the Undergraduate English Society, and was an intern at the nonprofit Freedom House in Washington, D.C., which advocates for democracy and human rights around the world.

To make Mason feel more like home, finance major Danjing Shen (right) and her roommates ride the CUE Bus to Asian supermarkets in the area and then cook their favorite dishes in their dorm kitchens.

To make Mason feel more like home, finance major Danjing Shen (right) and her roommates ride the CUE Bus to Asian supermarkets in the area and then cook their favorite dishes in their dorm kitchens.

Academic awards for program students abound, from winning essay-writing awards to achievement awards in computer science to taking home honor society titles for top GPA scores. Most of the students are also on the dean’s list each semester they spend at Mason. And for the first time, a program student, economics major Nao Ma, won a full sports scholarship from Mason’s track and field team.

Other students pay their own way, something more Chinese citizens can afford to do given the country’s emerging prosperity in the global market. “In China, the number of students who can afford to attend college in the United States is skyrocketing, although it’s still a stretch for a middle-class family,” says Ross.

Most of the program participants major in economics and finance at Mason, but they can choose from a dozen majors offered in the program. New majors are added based on departmental interest and student demand. Electrical engineering is a new option this year, and environmental science was added last year.

If there is a downside to China 1+2+1, it’s that the visit to Mason is temporary.

“We don’t have a gym in China, but here I can go to the gym everyday to workout or play basketball with my friends. I feel like this campus makes the student’s life much better,” says Cong. “Campus life is really colorful, there are so many events on campus every day, and there are so many services for students, like counselors, advisors, and career services.

“I really want to stay here for a while,” says Cong. “I really love living here.”

 

By Buzz McClain; Original Article on Mason NewsDesk.

Chinese Media Expert Speaks at Mason

On Feb. 9, Guoming Yu, a well-known expert on Chinese media and deputy dean of the School of Journalism at Renmin (People’s) University in Beijing, spoke on “Media and Culture: Reflections on the China Experience” to a large group of students and faculty members in Mason Hall.

Guoming Yu.

Guoming Yu.

After talking about how the media and its audiences influence and shape the news, Yu noted some salient differences between the United States and China. While China’s media has developed rapidly over the past two decades, it still has a long way to go to become as diverse and free as media in the United States.

When it comes to adapting new forms of digital media, however, Yu noted that China may actually be moving more rapidly than the United States. China’s web-based media is particularly vibrant, covering controversial aspects of news stories that China’s more official media outlets sometimes choose to ignore.

Yu also directs the Public Opinion Research Institute at Renmin University, the first such institute in China and a leader in the field. Yu noted that, following Premier Wen Jiabao’s speech to China’s National People’s Congress last year, his institute issued a report on public reaction to the speech within five hours — a task that would have taken more than a week in the 1980s.

Yu’s talk was followed by a lively question-and-answer period and a reception. The event was sponsored by the Confucius Institute at Mason, the Department of Communication and the Department of Modern and Classical Languages.

Professor Gary Kreps, chair of the Communication Department, noted that Yu had also spoken to faculty and students in the Communication Department earlier in the day and that several areas of collaborative research between Mason and Renmin University are under discussion, including a project involving health communication.

 

By Madelyn Ross; Original Article on Mason Gazette.

Mason’s Artistic Connections with China Create Rich Learning Environment

Walking through the de Laski Performing Arts Building, it’s not uncommon to see a nine-foot grand piano, a trumpet, a bassoon or even a five-piece drum set. But what about an erhu, a zhonghu or a bamboo flute?

Visiting students from Nanjing Normal University recently performed in the de Laski Performing Arts Building using traditional Chinese instruments.

Visiting students from Nanjing Normal University recently performed in the de Laski Performing Arts Building using traditional Chinese instruments.

These traditional Chinese instruments — plus many others — came alive during a performance by faculty and staff members from China’s Nanjing Normal University on Oct. 19. The performance was part of a weeklong visit to Mason by 23 deans from Chinese universities to learn more about fine arts degrees.

The visit was just one of many examples of cultural exchanges that have strengthened the relationship between Mason’s College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA) and Chinese universities.

CVPA Dean William Reeder is at the forefront of establishing a cultural connection with Chinese universities. He made an initial connection to the diverse country in summer 2005, when he traveled to China to partner with Peter Mark, artistic director of the Virginia Opera. Together, the pair produced Puccini’s opera “Tosca,” the first opera performance to take place in the Shanghai Opera House.

“China’s cultural history has undergone a varied and often brutal transformation, but what has emerged is a dynamic blend and greater appreciation for traditional and Western influences in the arts,” says Reeder.

“It’s wonderful that we can expose our students — and Chinese students as well — to a different way of life and offer them a different kind of educational experience.”

This past summer, music professor Linda Apple Monson, far right, and the late Judith Lapple, a flute professor, and her daughter, Jenny Lapple, visited China and conducted master classes and performed for Nanjing Normal students.

This past summer, music professor Linda Apple Monson, far right, and the late Judith Lapple, a flute professor, and her daughter, Jenny Lapple, visited China and conducted master classes and performed for Nanjing Normal students.

This venture opened the door for Reeder to build numerous relationships with some of the top leaders in the performing arts industry and led to the creation of the International Opera Alliance (IOA). Housed at Mason and directed by Mark, IOA promotes cross-cultural exchange and provides training and support for artists throughout the world.

And as part of his travels, Reeder met Gao Qing, who is now a special assistant to Reeder and has helped to develop Mason’s Confucius Institute and serves as its managing director.

While Reeder has been building artistic relationships abroad, students from Chinese universities continue to enrich and provide diversified experiences for Mason students and faculty.

For example, this past summer, junior Fiona Han, a music major in the 1+2+1 program, helped arrange a visit to Nanjing Normal University by the late Judy Lapple, Mason flute professor, and Linda Apple Monson, associate director for academic affairs and director of keyboard studies in the School of Music.

During their two-week visit, Monson and Lapple, along with Lapple’s daughter, Jenny, conducted piano and flute master classes for nearly 80 students at the university. In addition, the trio performed several solo and group concerts and interacted with numerous professors.

“Our trip to Nanjing Normal University was a fascinating experience and we were delighted to see the positive reactions of the audience to our performances of 20th century music by American composers,” says Monson.

“We were thrilled with the responses we received from the Chinese students in our master classes and with their eagerness to learn different techniques and new repertoire.”

After returning from their trip, Mason later welcomed a delegation of deans from Chinese universities who were interested in learning more about the emerging field of arts management and specific aspects of the master of fine arts degree. The deans participated in daily panel discussions that included speakers from Mason and other universities and organizations in the area.

“We were delighted to host the Chinese delegation because it gave them the opportunity to see the kinds of strides Mason is making in all of the arts fields,” says Reeder. “In addition, it gave us the opportunity to repay the extreme kindness and warm welcome they offered to us during our visits to their country.”

When he looks to the future of Mason’s cultural relationship with China, Reeder notes that it is open and limitless.

“I think the exchange between the two countries is on track to become quite vibrant, and I look forward to finding opportunities and challenges for American and Chinese students to blend together their cultures and create a new art form.”

 

By Catherine Ferraro; Original Article on Mason Gazette.

Mason Celebrates Graduation of U.S.-China Dual Degree Program Students

On June 22, Mason Provost Peter Stearns attended the annual graduation ceremony for the U.S.-China 1+2+1 Dual Degree Program, where 22 students received their diplomas in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

Mason Provost Peter Stearns and Vice President Yin Aisun of Soochow University in Suzhou, China, present graduation diplomas and certificates to four graduates.

Mason Provost Peter Stearns and Vice President Yin Aisun of Soochow University in Suzhou, China, present graduation diplomas and certificates to four graduates.

The 1+2+1 program is a partnership between American and Chinese universities to offer dual degrees to Chinese undergraduate students.

Mason was one of the first U.S. universities to join the program, which now involves 18 American public universities and some 80 Chinese universities. The program has been recognized by the U.S. and Chinese governments as one of the largest and most successful education projects developed by the two countries over the past 20 years.

The first students from China came to Mason in August 2005, and the sixth group of students will arrive in August 2010. As of this fall, more than 180 students from 15 different Chinese universities will have attended Mason through the program.

Participants complete their freshman year in China, study at Mason for the next two to three years, then return to their Chinese university to complete their final requirements.

Some of the students initially enroll in the English Language Institute at Mason, but most quickly move into regular academic classes.

High-Achieving Students

Stearns and Vice President Jiang Gefu of Southwest Jiaotong University in Chengdu, China, present a graduation diploma and certificate to Yunbo Geng, who won Mason's Alice C. Andrews Outstanding Senior in Geography Award.

Stearns and Vice President Jiang Gefu of Southwest Jiaotong University in Chengdu, China, present a graduation diploma and certificate to Yunbo Geng, who won Mason’s Alice C. Andrews Outstanding Senior in Geography Award.

To receive their dual degrees, these students must complete the general and departmental requirements of both universities. At Mason, the students usually take a full schedule of five courses in each of the fall and spring semesters, as well as several classes during the summer semester.

Despite this demanding schedule, 1+2+1 students often excel in their classes and find time to make a real impact on the university.

According to Stearns, “Their intelligence and hard work have brought them many academic awards, and their willingness to reach out in other activities has joined them with many American students.”

Each year, the majority of 1+2+1 students at Mason are on the dean’s list, and some are honored with departmental awards at graduation.

For example, in each of the past three years, several 1+2+1 seniors have won special awards from the Economics Department; last year, Yang Xu had the highest GPA in the department.

This year, Yunbo Geng, who had the highest GPA in the Department of Geography and Geoinformation Science, won the Alice C. Andrews Outstanding Senior in Geography Award.

Di Wen, who graduated this summer with a computer science degree, also had one of the highest GPAs in his class and will attend graduate school at Columbia University in the fall.

The 1+2+1 students also participate actively in university life.

During Mason’s annual International Week celebrations, 1+2+1 students usually organize a fashion show and other cultural activities. They are consistently represented in the Chinese Students and Scholars Association leadership, and they play intramural sports, serve on committees and volunteer for projects.

Not surprisingly, this group of high-achieving students is also doing well after graduation. Those who go straight to the job market report good luck in landing positions, helped by China’s booming economy as well as their double degrees, international experience and bilingual skills.

About a dozen alumni of Mason’s program are pursuing postgraduate work, including several who enrolled at Mason. Master’s of business administration programs are popular, and graduates are attending Brandeis University, the University of Rochester and the University of Virginia in the United States. Other graduates are going to Hong Kong, Australia and England for further study.

University-Wide Impact

The 1+2+1 students at a celebration prior to graduation. Photo by Jacob Heater, BA Global Affairs '09

The 1+2+1 students at a celebration prior to graduation. Photo by Jacob Heater, BA Global Affairs ’09

The 1+2+1 program is Mason’s largest dual degree program and one of the university’s key international initiatives.

The curricular challenges of a successful dual degree program have engaged Mason’s faculty and administration directly with their counterparts in China and brought valuable international education experience to the university.

The program also benefits Mason by bringing a select group of talented international students to campus, adding a global perspective to academic instruction and serving as a catalyst for other exchanges between U.S. and Chinese partner universities.

Mason has hosted several visiting scholars from Chinese 1+2+1 universities, and Mason faculty members have spent time at partner schools in China.

As a result of the relationships developed from the program, Nanjing Normal University dance students and faculty members performed at Mason this spring, and this summer, Mason music professors Linda Monson and Judith Lapple performed at Nanjing Normal University with 1+2+1 student and music major Feixue Han.

 

By Madelyn Ross; Original Article on Mason Gazette.

Mason Recognized in Top 100 of Academic Ranking of World Universities

Mason was ranked as one of the top 100 North and Latin American universities by the Academic Ranking of World Universities. Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s Institute of Higher Education conducts the analysis annually and published the results on the institute’s web site on Friday, Aug. 15.

Universities are ranked by several indicators of academic or research performance. These include the number of alumni and staff members who have won Nobel Prizes or Fields Medals; the prevalence of highly cited researchers; the number of faculty articles published in the journals Nature and Science; and the frequency with which articles are indexed in major citations indices. The per capita academic performance of an institution is also considered.

“Being recognized by Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s Academic Ranking of World Universities is a very rewarding reflection of Mason’s global outreach,” says Mason Provost Peter Stearns.

“This is a great illustration of how Mason has used its global energy to boost its reputation in the United States and abroad.”

As an institution that has made global education a priority, Mason offers a wide range of academic programs, from undergraduate degrees in global affairs and global and environmental change to doctoral programs in climate dynamics and other fields that foster global understanding. Several programs also require global residencies in which students learn how to live and work in a global society.

The university has also established research and educational collaborations abroad that provide opportunities for students and faculty members to work outside of the United States, participate in international research initiatives and address social issues around the world.

For example, the Sino-America 1+2+1 dual degree program, which Mason joined in 2004, is an international education initiative that brings American and Chinese universities together to offer dual degrees to Chinese undergraduate students.

In the program, students spend their freshman year at a Chinese university, their sophomore and junior years at an American university and their senior year back at their original university in China. After completing the program, students receive baccalaureate degrees from both schools.

The first 15 graduates of Mason’s 1+2+1 program received undergraduate degrees at a graduation ceremony at Yunnan University in China in June. Mason recently welcomed another 32 Chinese students to begin their two years of study as part of the 1+2+1 program.

With a goal of providing world-class educational facilities in association with other highly respected universities from all over the world, Mason opened the doors to its Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) Campus in 2006. Located in the United Arab Emirates, RAK is the university’s first campus outside of the United States., Currently home to 80 students from countries around the world, the RAK Campus offers bachelor of science degrees in programs such as biology, electronics and computer engineering and applied computer science.

Mason also provides its students opportunities to study almost anywhere in the world through its Center for Global Education. The center offers short-term, semester and yearlong honors study abroad; international internships; and intensive language programs in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, South America and the South Pacific.

Through Mason’s numerous centers and institutes, faculty members and students are working on some of the most pressing issues around the globe, including conflict analysis and resolution, Earth observing and space research, health policy research and international education.

In September, Mason will join more than 400 universities from 80 countries worldwide and will become the second university in Virginia to sign the Magna Charta, a document committed to promoting global education.

 

By Catherine Ferraro; Original Article on Mason Gazette.

Chinese Students Thrive in Dual Academic Program

Mason has a strong history of international ties, and its U.S.-China 1+2+1 Joint Academic Program adds to the tapestry of one of the most diverse student bodies in the nation. Since Mason joined the program in 2004, Mason’s China coordinator Madelyn Ross has helped bring more than 75 Chinese students to the United States to study at Mason. A group of 29 is expected to arrive on August 19 for the upcoming academic year.

The program is an international education initiative that brings American and Chinese universities together to offer dual degrees to Chinese undergraduate students who would not otherwise have the chance to study in the United States.

Students of the U.S.-China 1+2+1 Program meet with Dr. Merten.

Students of the U.S.-China 1+2+1 Program meet with Dr. Merten.

Students spend their freshman year in a Chinese university, their sophomore and junior years at an American university, and their senior year back at their original university in China. Students receive baccalaureate degrees from each school after they finish all requirements.

Ross says this summer the program “is going very well. When students come here from China, they choose from one of about 10 majors offered in the program. A lot of the Chinese students start by studying at the English Language Institute together, though some have strong enough English skills they can begin immediately with undergraduate classes.”

Sixteen students arrived at Mason from China in 2005 and 30 in 2006. According to Ross, all 16 students in the first group have made the dean’s list for one or more semesters here, and they have made strong contributions to Mason both within and outside the classroom.

Current Mason students Liu Zongyuan, Lu Chuanchuan and Shi Chengcheng all came to the university as part of the 1+2+1 program.

Until he arrived at Mason in August 2005, Liu had never been out of his native China. He came to Virginia after spending a year at Yunnan University in far southwest China. “At the beginning, of course, it is different,” says Liu, a computer science major. “We got a lot of help from the school and American friends, and life becomes easier.”

Now in his second year at Mason, Lui has maintained excellent grades while holding a part-time job on campus. He even found time to travel to New Orleans and spend a week rebuilding homes there with other Mason students through a nationwide program for university scholars. “I like American culture, the study of the language and my major,” he says.

Lui will to return to his Chinese university early in 2008 and plans to graduate with a dual degree from Mason and Yunnan in software engineering and computer science, respectively.

A finance major, Lu studied English for 12 years before she came to Mason. “I think the teachers [at Mason] are kind, helpful and open minded. They spend more time with students than Chinese teachers do,” says Lu.

Lu hopes to find a banking job in China once she graduates. Her grandfather is a famous businessman in her hometown, and other family members are involved in banking.

Shi switched her major from finance to economics and would like to attend graduate school in the United States after she finishes her undergraduate degree in China.

Shi has become very involved in campus life at Mason. She is a member of the Chess Club and enjoys playing badminton at the Field House. When not working part time at Fenwick Library, Shi also plays table tennis, enjoys music and has attended several Mason basketball games.

Because so many of the students are not only adapting, but thriving, Ross wants to expand the program to have Mason students study in China. She also wants to offer faculty exchanges. “A major goal of the program [is] to have more two-way traffic,” she says.

“George Mason University is deeply committed to developing research and educational collaborations abroad,” says Provost Peter Stearns. “This goal contributes to the educational atmosphere available for American students. It further allows the strengths and values of American higher education to be more widely shared. Education is a resource that must be deployed to improve global relationships, and Mason is privileged to play a measurable role in this process.”

By David Driver; Original article on Mason Gazette.

Chinese Administrator Explores American University System through Mason Visit

Xia Jinwen, director of the Teaching Affairs Office at Nanjing Normal University in China, has been at George Mason since Feb.10 shadowing Provost Peter Stearns to learn more about the American university system.

Xia Jinwen

Xia Jinwen

Mason is one of 10 public universities nationwide chosen by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities to host senior university administrators from China under the Extended Sino-American Leadership Training Initiative (EXSALT). As part of the reciprocal EXSALT program, a George Mason faculty member will be invited to spend a semester teaching at Nanjing Normal next year.

During his month-long visit—Xia’s last day at Mason is tomorrow—he has attended a number of senior staff meetings with Stearns and President Alan Merten, met with university administrators, talked with numerous faculty members, toured all three George Mason campuses, and attended several classes.

“One of the biggest impressions I have of George Mason so far is the deep level of internationalization, with students here from more than 140 countries and many international activities,” says Xia through his interpreter, Madelyn Ross, China coordinator at Mason. “It is very refreshing, and it’s a good program because it promotes cultural and educational interaction. I think our Chinese universities can learn from George Mason about the level of openness to foreign countries. We have begun to pay a lot of attention to internationalizing our university in the last 10 years.”

Another difference Xia singled out is the higher education management system. In China, the structure is more traditional, with clear divisions between upper management and staff. Here, he has been impressed with how Stearns takes the time to meet with a number of different faculty, staff, and student groups throughout the week. “Dr. Stearns gets feedback from the university community and uses that information when making important decisions,” he says. “I enjoy watching him tap into the energy and enthusiasm of the students and staff.”

Another aspect that has made an impression on Xia is how far George Mason plans ahead. “I am very impressed with how Dr. Stearns is always thinking into the future. He has a vision. The provost take a lot of time to gather information before making a decision, but at the same time, he’s good at seeing an opportunity somewhere and moving quickly to take advantage of it.”

Xia is trying to learn more about how George Mason has grown so fast and also improved its reputation over the past 20 years. Nanjing Normal is in a similar growth pattern and is comparable in demographics to Mason: It has more than 27,000 students and 3,140 faculty and staff members. Also like George Mason, Nanjing Normal has three separate campuses, and is becoming a model for other Chinese universities in its management of distributed campuses. The university is also well known in China for its academics, as it is ranked one of the top 50 universities in the nation, and its programs in education, geography, and Chinese language and literature are among the top three in China.

When Merten visited China last year, he signed agreements with seven Chinese universities, including Nanjing Normal, to participate in the 1-2-1 Joint Academic Program beginning this fall. Xia hopes that the 1-2-1 exchange program will provide many more opportunities for Nanjing Normal and George Mason to continue their dialogue.

 

For Original article click here.

International Agreement Will Bring Chinese Students to George Mason

One of the key accomplishments of President Alan Merten’s trip to Asia last fall was signing agreements with seven Chinese universities that will send students to Mason for their sophomore and junior years. As a result of the agreements, part of the U.S.-China 1-2-1 Joint Academic Program, 20 to 30 Chinese students are expected to study at the Fairfax Campus this fall.

Approximately 20 universities in China and five in the United States are involved in the 1-2-1 program. Last week, a delegation of presidents and vice presidents from 12 Chinese universities participating in the 1-2-1 program visited George Mason and met with Merten and other administrators to discuss administrative issues and tour the campus.

The U.S.-China 1-2-1 Joint Academic Program is an international education initiative that brings American and Chinese universities together to offer dual degrees to Chinese undergraduate students who would not otherwise have access to education in the United States. Students spend their freshman year in a Chinese university, their sophomore and junior years at an American university, and their senior year back at their original university in China. Upon completing all requirements, students receive baccalaureate degrees from each school.

President Alan Merten and China Coordinator Madelyn Ross addressed the delegation of Chinese university administrators last week.

President Alan Merten and China Coordinator Madelyn Ross addressed the delegation of Chinese university administrators last week.

“The 1-2-1 program will strengthen George Mason by bringing a select group of Chinese undergraduates to the campus, broadening their educational horizons, and enriching our student population,” says Merten. “With the support of China’s Ministry of Education, it also will help George Mason develop stronger institutional links to the Chinese university partners and facilitate a wide array of initiatives Mason is developing in China, including research connections, artistic collaborations, faculty exchanges, and training initiatives.”

 

At Mason, six departments will be open to the students in 2005-06:

  • Computer Science (BS)
  • Dance (BFA)
  • Economics (BS or BA)
  • Geography (BS or BA)
  • Global Affairs (BA)
  • Music (BM in Performance)

George Mason formally joined the 1-2-1 program last October when Merten signed an agreement in Beijing with seven of the participating Chinese universities. To ensure good communication and facilitate program planning, George Mason will work initially with just seven schools in China whose programs and students seem to be a good fit with Mason’s. The initial partner schools are

Beijing Normal University, Nanjing Normal University, Wuhan University of Technology, Southwest Jiaotong University, Shandong University at Weihai, Soochow University, and Yunnan University.

Begun in 2001, the 1-2-1 program was designed and is supported by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and the China Center for International Educational Exchange under China’s Ministry of Education. The pilot phase of the program brought more than 169 students from 19 Chinese universities to study in the United States, at Troy State University in Alabama and Pittsburg State University in Kansas. George Mason, Ball State University, and Southeastern Oklahoma State University joined the program in 2004, and several other U.S. universities plan to join this year.

Mason’s China Coordinator, Madelyn Ross, says that the U.S. Embassy and consulates in China are enthusiastic about the 1-2-1 program because it helps increase the number of Chinese undergraduates who can study in the United States while providing relative certainty that the students will return to China, as required, to complete their degree. The program is also becoming known among Chinese families as a good way for qualified students who can afford to study overseas to gain U.S. college experience while lessening the overall expense of foreign tuition by two years and minimizing visa concerns. Finally, she says, the Ministry of Education of China is enthusiastic about the initiative because it encourages collaboration between American and Chinese universities and gives Chinese students strong international experience and proficiency in English.

For more information about the program, contact Ross at mross3@gmu.edu or 703-993-8795.

Original article posted on Mason Gazette.