Chinese students, faculty to study at Missouri university

Updated: 2015-02-20 12:12

By Paul Welitzkin in New York(China Daily USA)

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Starting next September 50 students and 10 faculty members from China's Ningxia University will study for nearly a year at Missouri State University to burnish their agricultural, English and teaching skills.

The Chinese university is in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region in the northwest part of the country. It is an area known for agriculture.

"The governor of the province (Liu Hui) is a very forward-looking leader," said James P. Baker, vice-president for research and economic development and international programs at the Missouri school. "She recognizes the need to develop the region's agricultural assets to help build a strong work force. Agriculture is very important for the area's economy."

At the end of January, Missouri State, the provincial government and Ningxia University signed a $1.38 million agreement for the program. "The source of the funding comes from the province in partnership with Ningxia University," said Baker. "This will cover everything - tuition, living expenses, and field trips."

The students and faculty from Ningxia University will focus on four main areas: wine and grape production; grassland management, and animal science in the William H. Darr School of Agriculture. They will also further develop their English competency, Baker said.

"The animal science will probably focus on cattle. We are noted for our cattle and grassland programs," he explained.

The students will earn credits in English and agricultural studies. The 10 faculty members from the agricultural and wine schools will be offered non-credit training in teaching methods, English language and professional development.

Baker said this will help Missouri State expand its international presence and its affiliations in China. "In addition to the partnership with Ningxia University, we've had programs in China since 1998," he said.

Liaoning Normal University in Dalian and Missouri State University created the LNU-MSU College of International Business in 2000. Since then, LNU-MSU has welcomed students from many nations including China, South Korea, Japan, Mongolia, Indonesia, the US and many African countries.

Missouri State's association with the Ningxia region began in 2004 through a partnership with the Ningxia Forestry Institute that has included research projects in viticulture, enology, plant pathology and other areas of fruit science.

Starting Wednesday and lasting until Saturday, Missouri State will also host a series of events to celebrate the Chinese New Year. The school is in Springfield and used to be known as Southwest Missouri State University. It is the state's second-largest university with an enrollment of over 22,000 students in 2014.