Congratulations! Kean University has achieved another first for its students, faculty, staff and alumni—and for the entire state of New Jersey. Our Wenzhou-Kean initiative in China earned an important approval from the Executive Committee on Substantive Change of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education this month when the commission approved Kean University’s application for an additional location in Wenzhou, China. This approval is a critical component in the University’s pioneering efforts to build and operate a full-scale American campus in China.
I congratulate all members of the campus community who support the Wenzhou-Kean project and recognize the promise and opportunity this unique initiative provides our students, faculty, staff and alumni. This news should energize our entire campus, especially our students, who will have access to the unprecedented international opportunities inherent in this joint initiative with China.
At its March meeting, the Executive Committee specifically acknowledged the University’s substantive change request and provisionally reclassified as an additional location our instructional site in Wenzhou, China. A Commission site visit team will travel to Wenzhou-Kean within six months to confirm this decision, a standard protocol when an institution seeks accreditation for its first international location. A copy of the MSCHE decision is posted on our website at www.kean.edu/KU/Middle-States-Matters and also can be reviewed at:
What does this mean for the Kean? It means that our faculty and our students in China are moving in the right direction; that our groundbreaking partnership with the city of Wenzhou and Zhejiang Province will enhance international education for generations of Kean students to come; and that our mission of access and opportunity continues to thrive for all Kean students, many of whom are among the first in their families to pursue their dream of higher education—the greatest equalizer in America.
It also means that Kean University can give its students a unique advantage as they prepare for their future careers. China is not only the world’s fastest growing economy; it is now the world’s largest exporter. China nevertheless remains a mystery in many ways to college students in the U.S. Now, not only will Kean provide our own students with both cultural and educational opportunities to learn in China among Chinese students, but we also will educate the next generation of Chinese leaders alongside young Americans. No doubt these experiences will distinguish our graduates as they seek future employment. Indeed, they will be uniquely prepared to assist New Jersey companies in efforts to forge international agreements with partners in China; better able to envision global opportunities for their employers; and, astutely prepared to impart a broader appreciation of different cultures to those they serve in whatever fields of work they pursue.
Our success in China is the direct result of our ability to envision a better future for our students, and to build the relationships needed with key leaders in the global economy. Our rigorous curriculum in China, conducted in English, is designed to prepare students for the globalized economy and culture of the 21st Century. And, our work enjoys the support of leaders both in China and in New Jersey.
Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Kean University in May 2006 when he was head of Zhejiang Province and lent his personal support and approval to the campus project. Since that time, we have worked closely with other leading officials in China to ensure that the new campus truly embodies the American method of higher education. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie himself welcomed then-Zhejiang Party Secretary Zhao Hongzhu to New Jersey in July 2011 during a series of meetings here at Kean and personally helped move the campus initiative forward. Mr. Zhao recently was appointed to a high level seat in China’s national government.
Eleven Kean students went to study in Wenzhou this inaugural year, and student leaders, faculty and staff have travelled to Wenzhou-Kean to teach, assess, learn and lend their support to our Chinese students as they develop campus clubs, student organizations and student governments. More than 200 Chinese students, meanwhile, will complete their first year of studies at Wenzhou-Kean this May.
When completed, the Wenzhou-Kean campus will encompass more than 200 acres in the extraordinary countryside near Wenzhou. Some 5,000 full-time students are projected to study on the new campus by the fall of 2016. Classes are taught in English by professors selected by Kean University, and students will earn Kean University degrees. And let me make this clear: all costs for constructing and operating the new university are being paid by China.
I want to close by encouraging you to take a look at some of the images and videos linked to this message—because we all know a picture is worth at least one thousand words. I also want to leave you with this quote from Kean student Roselena Twyne, who traveled to Wenzhou-Kean last summer to help welcome the program’s first group of 200 freshman. Roselena inspires us to be steadfast in our commitment to bring this opportunity to the students of Kean.
“What I learned from this experience is that there is so much diversity across the world, and there are so many opportunities to encounter. It’s just about being open to them… of all the opportunities I’ve had so far, this is by far the most wonderful. I am very proud of Kean and I am a proud Kean student.” – Roselena Twyne
At Kean, we can truly be proud of the world-class experiences we provide our students.
Dawood Farahi, Ph.D.