Thomas University administrators participate in the Friendship Fountain unveiling ceremony held at Xian Peihua University this spring. They include (from left) Dr. Sandi Smith, TU Director of International Programs; Joseph Hwang, Assistant to the Chancellor for TU China Programs; Michael Hwang, Chancellor for TU China Programs; Dr. Gary Bonvillian, President of TU; John Glenn, Chairman of the TU Board of Trustees; Dr. Jian Bo, Chairman of the Board, Xian Peihua University; and Professor Wang Shuancai, President of Xian Peihua University.
Friendship Fountains celebrate Thomas University’s partnerships in China
In the center of the Ben Grace Historic Quadrangle on Thomas University’s Main Campus stands Landis Fountain. Replicas of the fountain now adorn the campuses of TU’s partner universities in China. Known as Friendship Fountains, they were unveiled during ceremonies this spring.
The original Landis Fountain was built in 2010 and dedicated in honor of Dr. Jay B. and Peggy H. Landis by Dr. Ann Landis, TU’s Executive Vice President and Provost, and Dr. Susan Otto, Chair of the Division of Nursing. The fountain recognizes the Landises’ “commitment to teaching excellence and the liberal arts.”
In May Thomas University representatives visiting China attended ceremonies for the dedication of Friendship Fountains at Guangzhou College, South China University of Technology (GCU-SCUT) in Guangdong Province; Xi’an Peihua University in Shaanxi Province; and Wenzhou Medical University (WMU) in Zhejiang Province.
“The Friendship Fountains were dedicated by Thomas University to the partner universities in China to express Thomas University’s gratitude and appreciation for the cooperation and friendship of the Chinese partner universities toward working with TU to build a solid foundation in the academic cooperative programs at their respective universities,” said Joseph Hwang, Assistant to the Chancellor for Thomas University China Programs. “TU has been cooperating with WMU in the RN-BSN (Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing) cooperative program since 2011, and TU has been cooperating with GCU-SCUT in the BSBA (Bachelor of Science in Business Administration Degree) cooperative program since 2013.”
TU’s partnerships in China benefit students in both China and the U.S.
“Because of the internationalization of the world, international academic partners are essential for developing relationships with other cultures and preparing students for careers in international settings,” said Dr. Sandi Smith, Director of International Programs at TU.
Thomas University first began partnerships with universities in China in 2011. These programs are approved by the Chinese Central Government and provide the opportunity for students to earn TU degrees from TU faculty in China. Now there are three universities in China offering TU Business degrees and three offering Nursing degrees. Administrators expect enrollment in these six programs to total 1,100 students this fall.
“Students graduating from Thomas University’s cooperative programs in China earn two bachelor’s degrees: one from Thomas University and one from the Chinese partner university,” Hwang explained. “This should aid the student when he or she is applying for graduate studies or for future employment after graduating whether in or outside of China.”
TU also has a program in which students from China come to the United States to pursue a Master of Business Administration Degree on TU’s campus. In addition to their academic studies, these students interact with other TU students and in the Thomasville community. That program began in 2012, and this year includes 13 students from China.
“Thomas University entered international education with the purpose of expanding experiences for our faculty, staff and students,” said Dr. Gary Bonvillian, TU President. “This is not an unusual undertaking today as many universities conduct programs abroad. Ours, of course, is unique in that we have established partnerships in nursing programs at more universities and with more students than any foreign school has ever achieved in China. The immediate benefit to our students here in Thomasville is the interaction they have with the Chinese students who come to Thomasville to complete their MBA. In time, I would expect that some of our students would also participate in programming in China.”