HAYS. KS -- Dr. Edward H. Hammond, president of Fort Hays State University, and Clay Blair, chair of the Kansas Board of Regents, will lead a delegation to mainland China to meet with government and education leaders.
Fort Hays State University has had a partnership for two years with Sias University of Business and Management, located in the city of Xinzheng in Henan Province, which is the cradle of Chinese civilization and the sister province to the state of Kansas. The purpose of the trip is to reinforce and expand the FHSU-Sias partnership, which is flourishing with exchanges of students and faculty between the two schools.
In addition to Hammond and Blair, the delegation that departs Sunday includes Blair's wife, Janet, Regent Jack Wempe, Kansas City businessman Chuck Hammeke, FHSU Historian Jim Forsythe, FHSU Dean of the Virtual College Cindy Elliott and FHSU Director of University Relations Kent Steward.
The delegation has an ambitious itinerary for the eight-day trip. They will arrive in Beijing in late afternoon Monday, China time, and attend a banquet that night hosted by Sias University, the China Educational Ministry and China University of International Business and Economics.
On Tuesday, the delegation will participate in a signing ceremony for a new partnership between Fort Hays State University and China University of International Business and Economics. The ceremony will take place in the Great Hall of the People with the mayor of Beijing and leaders from government ministries in attendance. China University of International Business and Economics will serve as sort of a sponsor for a new Sias campus that is being established in Beijing.
Sias University, now in just its fourth year of existence, is a unique institution. It is the only privately owned, English-language university in China. Its founder, Dr. Shawn Chen, is a native of China and a naturalized U.S. citizen. He sought out the original partnership with Fort Hays State because Sias University needed more English-speaking professors to achieve his goal of preparing his students for jobs with multi-national corporations.
Chen hires graduates from American universities to work at Sias University as teaching assistants (TAs) for FHSU faculty members. A newly hired TA first comes to Hays to meet the FHSU professor that he or she will be working with, review the course requirements, go over lectures and assignments, and generally coordinate the teaching of the course. The TA then conducts the course on-site at Sias University, but papers and tests are sent to the FHSU faculty for grading.
The two universities are also exchanging students and faculty.
"Education, at its heart, is the ability to understand and appreciate life in all its expressions," Hammond said the week before the delegation departed. "Our partnership with Sias University has given Fort Hays State University a wonderful opportunity to learn first-hand about one of the oldest and arguably greatest civilizations in the history of the world. We believe this visit will help the partnership grow, and I especially appreciate the participation of Clay and Janet Blair and Jack Wempe."
While in Beijing, the delegation will visit such sites as the Great Wall and the Forbidden City, and they will meet with the China Olympic Committee and the China International Trade Promotion Council.
Next, the delegation will travel to Sias University to participate in the opening ceremony for the fall semester, which was postponed from August so that the FHSU group could be included. The delegation also will meet with the provincial governor and other government officials in nearby Zhengzhou, which is the capital of Henan Province.
The delegation will also visit the cities of Xi'an and Shanghai, where they will view historic sites and meet with government officials, before flying out of Shanghai at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 16. Because of the time difference, they expect to arrive in Hays late Tuesday or early Wednesday.