Howard University is expanding the list of initiatives that focus on educational exchange with China, academic leaders at the University told a group of foreign journalists on June 15.

The University was the first stop on a day-long media tour organized by the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Press Center. The tour brought more than 25 foreign journalists to campus, including reporters from People’s Daily, World Journal and China Daily.

The tour followed a January 2011 campus speech by First Lady Michelle Obama that was meant to jumpstart interest in study abroad programs among students, especially programs in China. President Obama has also called on universities to increase the number and to diversify the composition of American students studying in China as part of the 100,000 Strong Initiative.

“The focus from the White House sends a message to the academic community that this is important,” James H. Wyche, provost and chief academic advisor, said during remarks to the group of journalists. “At Howard, we are committed to expanding our international footprint through increased study abroad opportunities as well as research collaboration with universities and our industry counterparts.”

Wyche was joined by Alvin Thornton, Ph.D., senior advisor to the president on Academic Affairs; Barbara Griffin, vice president for Student Affairs; Sue White, head of school at Howard University Middle School of Mathematics and Science; and James A. Donaldson, dean of the College of Arts and Science. Kofi Bota, special assistant to the provost for international affairs; and James Davis, chair of World Languages, also attended.

Wyche and the other officials presented an overview of Howard’s academic initiatives that focus on China. He said the University was in the midst of expanding its World Languages and Culture degree program to offer Chinese culture and language as a major.
Currently, the University offers a two-year, four-semester Chinese language sequence and is seeking a second full-time Chinese instructor through the Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant Program.

Since 2005, Howard has placed nine students at Chinese universities, including Beijing Foreign Studies University, University of Shanghai, and Nanjing University. Howard is expanding study abroad programs to annually place 50 students in China for total-immersion programs to study language and culture.

Inspired by Michelle Obama’s visit to campus, 25 members of the Howard University Freshmen Leadership Academy will travel to Beijing in July. On the tour, students will examine global business, education, history and leadership. The journalists interviewed sophomores Dominique Perkins and Caleb A. Davis about the upcoming trip.

Two MBA students — Akinbanjo Orukotan, a second-year MBA student, and Gbovadeh Gbilia, a 2011 MBA graduate — who traveled to China recently also addressed the journalists. Both students were among a group of MBA students who traveled to Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong as part of their Global Business Environment course. A total of 28 students have traveled to China over the last two years.

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