Wenzhou-Kean University commencement
Higher Ed

Kean University Commits to Expanded International Exchanges

Kean University committed to expanding its international student exchange initiatives this week as senior Chinese leaders publicly lauded the university for being a model for the cooperative programs on its growing campus in Wenzhou, China.

President Xi Jingping of China issued a public letter to Kean President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D., commending the university on its exchange programs at Wenzhou-Kean University (WKU), in which 1,700 students from the US and China have participated in recent years.

Repollet committed to further building the program over the next five years in support of the Chinese president’s goal of bringing 50,000 American youth to study at Chinese universities.

“We are honored and humbled that President Xi recognizes the outstanding academics, research and exchange programs at WKU,” said Repollet, who was in Wenzhou to celebrate WKU’s eighth commencement ceremony. “International exchange provides students from both countries the opportunity to expand their personal and professional horizons. They are particularly valuable for first-generation students and those from disadvantaged backgrounds who experience a new culture for the first time. We are glad to be at the forefront of shaping the leaders of tomorrow in both countries.”

The China Ministry of Education officially approved the establishment of WKU 10 years ago. Kean remains the only public university in the United States to have a campus in China. It has grown to serve 4,500 students from across China, the United States and beyond. Eight hundred students graduated from WKU on Friday, June 7.

“WKU provides students with a truly unique world-class education,” said Frank Wang, chairman of the WKU Board of Directors. “Our graduates attend some of the most prestigious graduate schools in the world and work at major companies. They are shaping our collective future.”

In his letter, which received international media attention, President Xi recognized Kean President Emeritus Dawood Farahi, Ph.D., who collaborated with Xi in developing WKU over a decade ago when Xi was the leader of Zhejiang province, which has a decades long sister-state relationship with New Jersey.

“It’s wonderful to see our vision for WKU come to fruition,” Farahi said. “Its growth as a research institution has truly exceeded my expectations. More importantly, students from both sides of the world continue to benefit from an American-style education in China.”

Farahi said he vividly remembers his conversation with President Xi in a car ride in New Jersey in 2006.

“He elaborated on his vision, and we made the adjustments and redefined the mission of what has now become WKU,” Farahi said. “So many people on both sides worked very hard on this project. It would not have happened without the total dedication of my dear friends Zhao Hangzhou and Chen Yixin, the party secretaries of Zhejiang and Wenzhou. WKU is now proof of what resolve, mutual understanding, and above all, cooperation can produce.”

Ada Morell, a member of the Kean Board of Trustees, served as board chair when Kean dedicated the new campus in Wenzhou, which now contains lab spaces, residence halls, faculty housing, athletic facilities and several new academic buildings.

“It’s been a great privilege to be part of this international initiative,” Morell said. “I’ve seen firsthand how students’ eyes are opened in so many ways by learning around the world. It is an invaluable experience for these students.”

Kean Senior Vice President Felice Vazquez said Kean will add additional programs and research opportunities for students in the United States to study at the WKU campus.

“There is a lot of interest from American students who want to study in China,” Vazquez said. “We are working diligently to provide access through a variety of different programs, including full study abroad programs and shorter Travelearn trips.”

WKU Executive Vice Chancellor Cary Anderson, Ed.D., said more than 240 faculty from around the world serve students in 18 undergraduate and nine graduate programs at WKU.

“Our diverse campus is the perfect extension of Kean University in New Jersey,” Anderson said. “We are well positioned to expand our international opportunities for students from across the world to benefit from this unique campus environment.”

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