by Dianne Cauble
With 27 university partnerships in 16 countries, UHCL continues to expand its global presence, and confirm its commitment toward educational diversification. During the 1980s, international enrollment represented less than one percent of the UHCL student population. Today, more than 500 international students, or seven percent of enrollment, attend classes at UHCL. The increase in international enrollment during the last decade is a direct result of UHCL's development of specialized programs.
The global impact of increased international student and faculty exchanges on both education and the economy is dramatic. International students annually contribute $500 million to the state of Texas and $7 billion to the national economy.
"The world is clearly becoming more interdependent," says Jerry Rhodeback, executive director for international initiatives. "Houston is one of the most international cities in the United States, with 70 percent of its economy dependent on global activities. It has over 65 consulate offices, second only to Washington, D.C. Regardless of the philosophies and social implications, there is a practicality to international involvement."
UHCL's strategic alliances in effect or under negotiation include universities in Argentina, Bangladesh, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Japan, Mexico, Thailand, The Netherlands, Pakistan, Peoples Republic of China, Slovakia, Sharjah United Arab Emirates, Spain, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Vietnam.
"Forming partnerships with international universities is not simply a benevolent act on the part of UHCL," says Rhodeback. "The alliances are essential to the new global economy. In education, we're obligated to expose students and faculty to the expanded world market, to teach them how to interact across cultures, and provide them opportunities to work in those environments."
The success of UHCL's global outreach efforts is apparent in the diversity of projects and universities involved. UHCL students recently served summer internships with the National Sun Yat-Sen University in Taiwan, as part of a six-year UHCL collaboration with corporations and governmental agencies on Taiwanese projects. Stephanie Weir, an undergraduate, was one of six students who participated in the summer exchange program.
"I could have sat in a classroom for 10 years and not gained as much experience as I did spending one summer in Taiwan," says Weir. "I hadn't really thought very much about a career in international business until I went to Taiwan. Now, I'd like to work with an international consulting firm."
As UHCL celebrates its 25th anniversary with a special tribute to international partnerships scheduled for February 2000, new initiatives include a three-way exchange agreement among the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava, Slovakia, Universidad Veracruzana in Veracruz, Mexico, and UHCL. Arrangements with three Vietnamese universities for undergraduate and graduate transfer programs are nearing completion.
Recipient of his second Fulbright Scholarship, UHCL Professor of Management Lou White is currently in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, completing a comparative research study on organizational development ethics. In 1989, during White's previous Fulbright-sponsored research, he established a relationship with National Sun Yat-Sen University President Liu Wei-Chi, which led to an international partnership agreement with UHCL in 1990. White also negotiated a partnership with Taiwan's Fu-Jen Catholic University. Under White's leadership, UHCL students travel to Taiwan each summer for six weeks to work with their university students on government and corporate projects. Students who participate in the exchange program explore strategic management, globalism and quality control and work team issues while working in a public or private sector institution.
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