Weber State University granted the International Economics program the 2012 Exemplary Collaboration award on Tuesday.
“I think the selection committee was impressed about an international partnership involving two different universities . . . (and) the number of students involved,” said Vice Provost Michael Vaughan.
According to the provost section of the WSU academic affairs website, to receive the award, faculty must have demonstrated a collaborative effort “in the areas of teaching, scholarship or service with our students, with professional colleagues, or with off-campus agencies or organizations.”
A large number of campus offices were named in the award for their involvement with the process of bringing in students from Shanghai Normal University and Woongji Accounting and Tax College to participate in the IE program, including staff from Continuing Education, the International Student Center and the admissions office. Also named were professors from the Telitha E. Lindquist College of Arts & Humanities, the College of Applied Science & Technology, and the College of Social & Behavioral Sciences.
Cliff Nowell, economics professor and associate dean, said the two-and-a-half-year-old program has branched out its influences to other areas of the community as well, including a Chinese New Year event that Nowell said had not existed before the IE program.
“It’s a combination of a lot of things,” Nowell said. “It’s a combination of starting a Chinese language program; it’s a combination of one of the local primary schools doing Chinese immersion and the number of students that are here at the Chinese club.”
This spring, Kwang-Pyo Kim will be the first Korean student to graduate from the program, and last spring, the program saw its first students from China graduate.
Nowell described last year’s graduation banquet as moving, drawing on a moment when one of the American students recalled his initial concerns about hosting students from abroad.
“(He) described how nervous he was about the program that he had heard it was coming . . . He was worried what it would mean for his education, and he said the best experience he had at Weber State was with the Asian students. That it made his education unique. That he made friends. He interacted with people from different parts of the world, and he never dreamed he would have that experience at Weber State. And that may be what made me feel best.”
Doris Geide-Stevenson, a professor, chair and adviser in the IE program. said the international students provoke a different way of thinking for the American students and the professors.
“You think a little bit more carefully how you want to phrase things,” Geide-Stevenson said.
Shanshan Zhao, an IE student who will graduate this spring, had praise for the program. He said it was a good way for her to learn about issues from Americans’ point of view. Zhao said she decided to make the move here due to several reasons.
“I and also my parents want me to go abroad . . . It’s easier for me to apply to graduate school, and maybe I can work here or something, so it’s a good beginning. And also it has cheaper tuition for us . . . And some teachers (from WSU) went to our school in Shanghai to teach us for a period of time, and I like that kind of style they teach. I also want to improve my English as well, because in China we can’t improve very quickly.”
However, Zhao expressed a wish for more American students to enroll in the program.
“I want more American students that we can communicate more and not just to speak Chinese in class,” she said.
Another student who will be alongside Zhao at spring graduation is Jie Wang, who also expressed his admiration of the program, saying it is “awesome” but “different.”
“American style is kind of open. They can challenge the teacher, but in China, we didn’t do that.”
Despite its success thus far, Nowell relayed the ongoing goal of the program is not finished.
“We don’t think the program is a success just because we have Asian students. We need students from other parts of the world, and for this program to truly be a success in the years to come, we’ve got to recruit students from all over the world,” Nowell said. “The program is international economics. To be international, you need to have international students.”