REPORT
Opening Ceremonies of CIPT-Lambton College
Changchun, P.R.China
September 1999

Grover B. Proctor, Jr.
Dean, Northwood University

EMAIL GROVER PROCTOR

CIPT-Lambton College Opening Ceremonies, 1

INTRODUCTION

        During the week of September 20, 1999, I travelled to P.R.China to represent Northwood University at the Opening Ceremonies of the new CIPT-Lambton College in Changchun. (Also attending was Norm Rath of Lambton College in Sarnia, Ontario, who replaced Ron Kennedy at the last moment when Mr. Kennedy's passport and visa were lost in the mail.) While there, I toured the campus of Changchun Institute of Posts & Telecommunications (CIPT); met several of the students who are the first freshman class of the new college; attended a series of meetings, dinners, and banquets (including the "official" first Board of Governors meeting of the new college after the Opening Ceremonies); gave a half-day Seminar for the 300+ freshmen of CIPT-Lambton; and was a platform guest at the Opening Ceremonies, where I gave a speech at the request of the President of CIPT-Lambton. (The photo above was taken of the Grand Dais at the Opening Ceremonies. The President of CIPT-Lambton is second from the left. I am fourth from left, and the President of CIPT is to my left. Seated seventh, eighth, and ninth from left are the Mayor of Changchun; Mr. Xu Yiping, the Deputy Director for Higher Education of the Jilin Provincial Education Commission (see below); and Norm Rath of Lambton College in Ontario.)

        The entire experience was an informative and building one, and many new contacts were made and established ones cemented. It is clear that the CIPT-Lambton College leadership have a great respect for Northwood, and are quite eager to make the partnership strong, viable, and working. They are looking for any ways possible to make sure that their students will have the means, ability, and (most of all) visas to come and study in the United States. Because of their relationship with Lambton College, they clearly recognize what factors will insure their students' success in our curriculums, and they have pledged to do everything in their power to assure those factors come to fruition. They look on this as a long-term relationship with Northwood, and seem to be trying to build a strong foundation for its continued growth and success.

        In order to adequately give the scope of the meetings, banquets, and ceremonies they put in place, I am taking the liberty of illustrating this Report with photos from the various events. They also will show, in some measure, the degree of their hospitality -- which was close, strong, and meaningful -- and the large scope in which they are thinking about, planning, and executing this project. It was not always easy to tell their exact, full message or motivation in any given situation or on any specific topic, but I always got the sense of immense good will seasoned with mutual self-interest. (Norm Rath later privately confirmed both of those perceptions.)

CIPT-Lambton students in military CIPT-LAMBTON COLLEGE

        The new school, CIPT-Lambton College, became official at the Opening Ceremonies on September 22, but of course it had been a de facto reality ever since the private investors and the two "parent" schools (CIPT in Changchun and Lambton College in Sarnia) decided it would be so, and were able to provide the capitalization and initial impetus to make it work. In addition to making plans for building a totally new campus adjacent to the existing CIPT, leadership of the new college have been setting goals and recruiting its first freshman class. They had set a goal of 300 students for this first class, and by the time of these meetings, they were on target to exceed that goal. (The photo shown here is of two faculty members of the new school flanking two new freshman. All entering students participate in ten days of military-like orientation at the beginning of term, complete with uniforms!)

        As part of my tour of the current "parent" CIPT campus, I was shown the grounds on which the new college campus will be built, as well as a scale model of the buildings and grounds. (CIPT-Lambton exists now in the buildings of CIPT only. The parent school has made available classrooms, computer and language lab space, dorms, faculty housing, and office space for this year.) The plan is for completion in two to three years of two multi-story classroom buildings which will also house administrative offices, two multi-story dormitories, and a cafeteria. Sufficient building will be finished by next fall so that all infrastructure now being housed in CIPT can be moved at that time, and CIPT-Lambton will be a self-sufficient entity.

CIPT Auditorium during CIPT-Lambton seminar         While the infrastructure at CIPT (and in public buildings in general in China) is not what we would expect in America, and the equipment found in the classrooms and labs appears slightly dated, the new college leadership shows signs of wanting to change both that image and that reality. On the day that I toured the CIPT campus, the professors took great pride in showing me the process of uncrating over 100 new Pentium III HP computers, purchased for the CIPT-Lambton labs and for faculty offices. Certainly the money is now there to keep these kinds of advancements (in equipment and infrasturcture) modern and plentiful, but it was not clear at what point these initial capitalization sources will end.

        It is hoped that as many students as can qualify academically and financially will study one year at the new CIPT-Lambton College, then complete two years at Lambton College in Sarnia to earn their diploma. Finally, those students wishing to pursue further Management education can then move to Northwood for one year to complete the work for their BBA. (CIPT-Lambton is in the process of identifying and partnering with a school in America for students who want to continue their technical side of their training. This piece should be in place within the current academic year.)

        The greatest challenge for the new college (indeed, any school in China) being able to send students to study in the States is the difficulty of obtaining visas from our government. For reasons related to the current state of chronic tension between the two countries, and related to the history of Chinese nationals staying in America after the time of their visas has expired, the government has shown itself to be very reluctant to grant visas to schools without a "track record" of students who successfully complete their studies and go home thereafter. The interim "solution" to this problem adopted by the new school will be to send students first to Canada, where they will demonstrate their "seriousness of purpose" in studying. They will then apply from Canada for their visa to study at Northwood. The success rate of obtaining visas in this manner has been shown to be significantly higher.

CIPT-Lambton seminar         Clearly, such travel and study will not be inexpensive, and not every student who enters CIPT-Lambton will be able to afford it. An alternative program for those students has been created, in which Lambton will provide its second and third year programs in Changchun for students not able to travel to North America. For those students, an agreement has been reached between CIPT-Lambton and Northwood's University College to provide "distance" coursework for those wishing to pursue it.

        While there would, of course, be philosophical (not to mention logistical and accreditation) challenges to be overcome, it was hard not to think about the possibility of Northwood establishing a presence there one day. Assuming that the new school's program grows as expected (and with the dearth of university places available in China today, there's every reason to believe it will do so), there will be a need for those students who stay in China to have the kind of management education Northwood could provide. Changchun is a thriving, growing city of 4 million, with what I understand are the normal contradictions of urban life in China today. The city is one of the largest centers of higher education in China, and this visit helped cement new contacts there that could be helpful should we ever decide to be there (see below).

        The subject of the half-day seminar I (along with Norm Rath of Lambton; see photos above) was asked to provide was one I found of keen interest to all the students with whom I spoke: what will it be like to study in the United States (also Canada) and specically at Northwood (also Lambton). I explained the educational system in America, and spoke the students about the way Northwood approaches higher education. I explained to them what they could expect once they had completed their work in Canada, and told them the value of a Bachelor's degree in Management from Northwood. During the question and answer period, several students were concerned about how valuable a Northwood degree would be in gaining employment in China.

        I was pleased to observe that at every opportunity to do so, the CIPT-Lambton academic and administrative leadership stressed to their students the importance of high levels of achievement in the study of English, in order to be successful in this program. They have installed two state-of-the-art language labs (of which they are justifiably proud), and Lambton has committed to providing eight ESL instructors from North America to be on site at CIPT-Lambton even from this first term. The perception among the Chinese students is, apparently, that having instructors from an English-speaking country is far superior to having Chinese nationals. Lambton's commitment is a large one, but is indicative of the new school's intentions of making English language mastery a bedrock of their program.

President of CIPT accepts NU Golden Plate President of CIPT-Lambton receives NU Gold Plate

MEETINGS AND OPENING CEREMONY

        The series of meetings that were arranged for me while I was there helped to cement several of the professional relationships already in place, and to begin personal relationships with several of the key players. The first two major events were dinner meetings, each with the president and key academic leadership of the two colleges. The first night was hosted by the president of the new CIPT-Lambton College (below, right); and the second, by the president of CIPT (below, left). After consultation with (and approval by) Bob Serum, Catherine Chen, and Brian Parr, I decided to take one of Northwood's Golden Plates to each of these men as symbols of Northwood's continuing partnership with them. (The presidents are shown in both pictures holding their plates.) I described it at the time of presentation (and at the speech during the Opening Ceremonies) as the gift that Northwood gives only to its most special friends.

        These meetings were places for discussing difficulties and possibilities, for formulating "what if's," and for sharing information about our respective institutions. The formality of the setting, and yet the informality of a meal, gave an interesting perspective and a chance for personal dynamics that might not have been possible in other settings.

        One such new and potentially important relationship which came out of this was one I formed with Xu Yipeng, the Deputy Director for Higher Education of the Jilin Provincial Education Commission. Mr. Xu was part of the group that came from China in April of this year, and though I had met him then, it wasn't until I was seated to his right at a special dinner he gave that we formed a friendship. He had read my speech which I was going to give that afternoon at the Ceremonies, and he praised it, noting its poetic nature. This got us onto the subject of poetry in general, a subject he warmed to immediately, and we talked (through an interpreter) for a long while. It was then easy to get onto the subjects of education in Changchun, and Northwood's future role in it. As a result, I felt that Mr. Xu was quite disposed to considering whatever proposals we might make down the road. He will be an important and powerful ally should we wish to go in that direction.

CIPT-Lambton College Opening Ceremonies, 2

        Northwood's being represented at the Opening Ceremonies was very important and worthwhile, the good will of which will bear us good fruit in the future. The 1200-seat CIPT auditorium was full to overflowing, and the event was covered by all the local media. The dais was filled with local and regional dignitaries -- including the major of Changchun and Xu Yipeng from the Jilin Provincial Education Commission -- as well as Norm Rath and I, representing the two North American colleges. The speeches were numerous and seemingly full of exhortations to be proud of the new college and of higher education in general, both in Changchun and in P.R.China. (A copy of my speech is appended to the end of this Report, for the record.)

        As is shown in the pictures, all expected pomp was exhibited, as befitting a large and important occasion. The auditorium was decorated in bright red banners, and the dais was draped with a rich gold cloth. All the members of the new freshman class were present, dressed in their matching CIPT-Lambton sweaters, and there was even a full band which played fanfares, Sousa marches, and the national anthem of P.R.China. Great honor was paid to the Golden Plate gift that I had presented to the president of the new college. After my speech, it was held up on stage for the assembly to see and express their appreciation for. In addition, letters of friendship and congratulations from Michigan Governor John Engler and Midland Mayor Drummond Black, which I took with me to the new school, were extremely well received and displayed with great pride.

        After the Ceremony, a group of about 80 to 100 dignitaries and guests adjourned to one of Changchun's 5-star hotels for a festive and elegant banquet given in honor of the occasion. After the myriad and plentiful toasts and an excellent meal, members of the Board of Governors of the new college moved to an adjacent room to hold an hour-long meeting. I'm certain for my benefit only, a brief history of the project was given (in English) once again, and plans for the construction and future recruiting of students were discussed. One more plea was sent through me to Northwood to attempt to solve the "visa problem" to whatever extent possible. With the adjourning of this meeting came an end to the official proceedings of the week. The next morning, a surprisingly large delegation (including the president and other academic and administrative leadership) came down to my hotel at a rather early hour to say one more farewell and express their appreciation for Northwood's participation.

 


 

Text of Speech at Opening Ceremony
Changchun Lambton College
Changchun, China
September 22, 1999

Mr. Mayor, Mr. Deputy Secretary, academic colleagues, distinguished colleagues and friends.

I bring you greetings from Dr. David E. Fry, the President of Northwood University; Dr. Mark Ouimet, its Chancellor; Dr. Robert Serum, Vice President of Academics; and Dr. Catherine Chen, Provost of our Michigan campus. They wish me to relay to you their congratulations, and to tell you how much Northwood looks forward to being an active partner in the new endeavor that we celebrate tonight.

I am both honored and pleased to have been invited to address this distinguished group, and to be included in this celebration. All of us at Northwood University anticipate with delight the new ways of serving students -- ways none of us have even thought of yet -- which can and will come out of the process we begin here today.

There has always been a fascination with the idea of East meeting West -- two great cultures, each discovering, experiencing, and appreciating the other. This alliance between our universities will promote this kind of education on a very real and personal level, with exciting potential for everyone who participates in the experience.

And what could be better than benefiting from each otherís wisdom? At Northwood, we have already begun. In fact, one bit of ancient Chinese wisdom is now having an impact on our college and its students every day. Published in the Catalog and on the informational brochures for Northwoodís MBA program is a quote that expresses one of the founding philosophies of our Graduate School of Management -- the philosophy of teaching students by exposing them to real business cases and situations that illustrate the theories they learn in the classroom. The quote reads, "I hear and I forget. I see and I believe. I do and I understand."

Although the quote is Chinese in origin, its essential truth is acknowledged by those who teach in every part of the world. Iím sure educators and administrators at Changchun Lambton College and Northwood University share many other parallel goals, challenges, and experiences. On another level, Changchun Lambton College and Northwood University also share historical parallels.

We come together today to celebrate a new idea for education Changchun Lambton College. This year at Northwood, we look back forty years ago to when two professors in Michigan came together with new ideas of their own, specifically about how business enterprise and management should be taught. They founded Northwood to accomplish a specific goal -- to solve a problem. Thus it is with Changchun Lambton College, where forward-thinking people have joined forces to create opportunities -- ways for students to meet their goals and brighten their futures.

The traditional metaphor for learning is light -- and itís such an appropriate description of what is happening here. Starting with its inauguration tonight, Changchun Lambton College will be a new light for learning, one that each of us hopes and believes will burn bright for a long time, and one that will shine as a beacon of invitation for students to learn, for educators to share wisdom, and even for other schools to imitate. (We in America believe that "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!")

Like light, the new college has required a spark to ignite it, and that spark was the creativity and determination of the leadership of two different but equally forward thinking institutions of higher learning. The fuel to make it grow was the hard work and careful planning of all of you gathered here tonight, and so many others who have contributed to the success of this new beginning.

Now, just like a light, it will scatter beams far beyond its origins and have positive effects that you cannot predict, but that you know in your heart will take place.

Just as light leaves its source and travels to places far and wide, bringing with it illumination and color, just so generations of students will go out from here and reflect honor back on all of you who touched their lives. For as those students travel forth, they will carry with them all of the insights, wisdom, practical knowledge, and burning intensity which we as educators infuse into them.

I can testify to the effect of scattered light at Northwood. In just the forty years of our existence, it has been our privilege to educate thousands of students, and send them on their way into the world. And almost every trip I make to various parts of America, I run into Northwood graduates who speak glowingly of their experience at college. Or we talk to industry leaders who have hired our alumni, and we find them pleased at the values and skills our graduates possess.

And so you -- the leadership and educators of this new light of learning -- come here tonight, with all of this potential, all of this promise, all of this future ahead of you. What more spiritual calling can there be, what nobler profession can there be, than to call forth into being the means of literally giving young people their future?

I am honored and proud to be a part of what we do here tonight.

For as we all agree, from both sides of the Great Ocean, it is not enough merely to hear that there is a need, nor to see how that need can be met. It is truly a testimony to your vision and foresight that you have done this great thing.

I look forward to sharing the many days of the future of Changchun Lambton with all of you.

Thank you.