MTSU pact with Guangxi University to yield 140 students

State Sen. Bill Ketron (top, left), MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and professor Elliot Altman in the College of Basic and Applied Sciences learn that 140 students from Guangxi University in Nanning, China, will attend MTSU this fall.
State Sen. Bill Ketron (left) and MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee present Guangxi Vice President Shang Nahong a medallion commemorating MTSU’s entrance into Conference USA after a meeting in Nanning, China.

The year-old partnership between Middle Tennessee State University and Guangxi University will enable 140 students from the south China institution to eventually come to the Murfreesboro campus.

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee learned the news Wednesday at a meeting on the Nanning campus with Guangxi administrators as well as deans and professors in its colleges of business, foreign language and mathematics and information science.

Guangxi Vice President Shang Nahong told McPhee that 53 students will eventually enroll at MTSU to study finance in the Jones College of Business; 34 will study business administration in the Jones College; and 46 will study mathematics in the College of Basic and Applied Sciences.

The Guangxi students will enroll at MTSU as soon as they complete course requirements on their campus.

“This is tremendous,” McPhee told Shang. “This means that Guangxi University has become one of our most productive and successful partnerships in less than a year. We are thrilled and appreciative.”

The students will enroll in a newly developed “three-plus-two” program between the universities, which will allow Guangxi students to finish their undergraduate degrees and earn graduate degrees while on the Murfreesboro campus.

McPhee, accompanied by state Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, and two professors from the College of Basic and Applied Sciences, Elliot Altman and Iris Gao, also engaged in talks about expanding the “three-plus-two” program to other majors.

The relationship between MTSU and Guangxi was first forged in May 2013, when McPhee and Ketron visited Nanning and announced the opening of a student recruitment office at Guangxi.

The office marked the university’s first overseas representative office and reflects MTSU’s growing commitment to Guangxi, an autonomous region on China’s border with Vietnam. The region is also home to the Guangxi Botanical Garden of Medicinal Plants, at which MTSU works with as a research partner and collaborator.

Then, in November, Guangxi University President Zhao Yanlin visited MTSU and signed a memorandum of understanding following a roundtable discussion between McPhee and executives from both universities. Guangxi officials later toured campus and met with their MTSU counterparts for further discussions.

Ketron, the state’s Senate majority caucus leader and a 1976 graduate of the university, said he was pleased to learn the relationship he helped forge last year was benefiting both institutions.

“I’m very excited about the news you have given us today,” Ketron said. “Since our world economy is now global, the relationship between MTSU and your university is very important and seems to be leading the way in our state, if not our country.”

McPhee and Shang also agreed for six professors from Guangxi to come to MTSU this fall to collaborate with faculty and learn more about the Murfreesboro campus.

“We have established partnerships with universities around the world, but when we talk about training teachers, MTSU is our priority,” Shang told McPhee.

“We are serious about our partnership with our Chinese universities,” McPhee said. “We are very selective — there are many who want to partner with us — and we want to partner with universities like Guangxi that will produce results.”

Founded in 1928, Guangxi has an enrollment of more than 24,000 students, similar to MTSU’s. Also like MTSU, most of its students are undergraduates and it is known for its wide variety of majors within its 30 colleges.

Its academic disciplines include various degree programs in public management; business and commerce: culture and mass communication; agriculture; and science, as well as specialties within education, science and engineering.

Guangxi boasts academic exchanges with more than 150 universities or research institutes in 35 countries or regions.

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