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BSU pursuing partnerships with Chinese universities

Seven Bemidji State University professors and faculty members are leaving for China to meet with four Chinese universities interested in partnerships that would allow for student and faculty exchange opportunities. Shown above are, from left, Mike Hamann, Elizabeth Rave, Steven Sundahl and Martin Tadlock as they pack the van Friday afternoon to leave for Minneapolis. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI – A delegation from Bemidji State University is now en route to China to pursue agreements with four universities that would be lead to opportunities for faculty and student exchanges.

Led by Provost Martin Tadlock, the seven-member group will meet with Chinese universities to discuss potential partnerships, particularly in the fields of design technology, technology management, applied engineering, and biology.

“Getting out of the U.S. and seeing what life is like on the other side of the world is a very eye-opening experience,” Tadlock said. “It will be very beneficial for our students.”

The delegation includes Tadlock; Colleen Greer, dean of the College of Arts & Science; Pat Rogers, dean of the College of Health Sciences & Human Ecology; Elizabeth Rave and Mike Hamann, biology department; and Steve Sundahl and Bonnie Higgins, department of technology, art and design professors.

Tadlock, in his first year as provost and vice president of academic affairs at BSU, developed similar relationships with Chinese universities while he was at Northeastern State University in Oklahoma as its vice president of academic affairs.

When he returned to Bemidji State – from 2001 to 2006 he was BSU’s dean of the College of Professional Studies and School of Graduate Studies– Tadlock said he wanted to pursue similar partnerships on behalf of BSU.

“We’re coming at their invitation,” Tadlock said, emphasizing that the Chinese institutions are just as interested in partnerships as BSU.

An agreement with one of the universities – Weifang University– is expected to be signed during the nine-day trip, Tadlock said.

“That’s the university (of the four) that I have had the longest relationship with,” he said.

If the partnerships are finalized, which could happen in time for spring semester, they would make available exchange opportunities for faculty and students. BSU professors might teach in China for a year or Chinese professors might teach in Bemidji. Likewise, students could exchange between universities to widen their educational opportunities.

BSU already has longstanding relationships with other universities throughout the world, though, Tadlock said the Chinese partnerships would involve universities with larger student populations, between 20,000 and 30,000.

“Our students need a competitive advantage,” he said. “If you’re going into the workforce, you have to think globally.”

Even regional employers such as Team Industries, Polaris, Artic Cat and Marvin Windows all have global connections, he noted.

“Even if you’re going to be working locally you’d better be thinking globally,” he said.

Tadlock said he himself learned the value of seeing the world when he was first sent to Turkey through the U.S. Air Force.

“You do not understand what life is like (in other parts of the world) until you experience it,” he said. “That’s really what education should be about.”