Ivy Tech Community College strengthens Indiana ties with China

INDIANAPOLIS – Although on opposite sides of the world, the largest college in Indiana and another in China created an international bond this week that officials say will increase educational opportunities for students and faculty from both colleges and play a role in the state’s economic development efforts in Asia.

While on the Governor’s Indiana Jobs Trade Mission to China and Japan, Ivy Tech Community College President Tom Snyder signed an agreement with Wuxi Professional College of Science and Technology (WPCST). The agreement paves the road for exchanges of Ivy Tech students, faculty and staff and cooperation in administration and curriculum with the Chinese school.

“This is a great fit to existing involvement with Wuxi. It is sister city to Columbus and is also home to three Cummins facilities. The city is home to dozens of multinationals, many of whom are seeking training from the college,” Snyder said.  “This is another step in our continued efforts to ensure that our graduates help Indiana companies remain globally competitive.”

WPCST is part of a national system of Associate Degree granting institutions. Founded by the city in 2003, the college has 8,000 residential students and 500 faculty on 400 acres. There are 2.3 million square feet of newly built classrooms, laboratories and dorms.

The agreement caps off a three-year venture to tie the nation’s largest singly accredited statewide community college to the Chinese equivalent of a community college campus. According to Snyder, the work was initiated by Columbus Mayor Fred Armstrong, Jean Hou of Cummins, Ryan Hou of LHP and Ivy Tech personnel.

“The agreement between Ivy Tech and Wuxi College solidifies the bond between Columbus and her sister city,” Armstrong said. “The partnership between these two institutions of higher learning could quickly become a catalyst for economic development opportunities for this region of the state.”

The agreement will provide for the exchange of students, faculty and technology.  There will provide an opportunity to compare educational approaches and methods between the two systems.

Columbus is a sister city to Wuxi, which is located 80 miles from Shanghai on Tai Lake. Wuxi’s population is five million. It is one of China’s top 50 cities and nicknamed “Little Shanghai” for its growing economy.

“Because of the concentration of industry in the Shanghai region, this relationship could also be a strong recruiting tool for China companies considering an investment in Indiana,” Snyder said. “As you might gather, there are many similarities in the course offerings, including a focus on workforce credentials.”

Headquartered in Columbus, Cummins Inc. also has production facilities and subsidiaries in Wuxi and other locations in China.

“This agreement will undoubtedly reach far beyond Ivy Tech Community College and should extend Indiana’s competitiveness for Asian investment in the United States,” said Mark Gerstle, Cummins vice president and chief administrative officer. “This agreement is simply another feather in our cap when talking in terms of economic development opportunities in Indiana.”

Last month, a delegation from Columbus met with Wuxi officials to broker the partnership opportunity and solidify the agreement. Among those in the Columbus delegation were Sue Smith, Ivy Tech executive director of workforce and economic development; Marwan Wafa, Vice Chancellor and Dean of IUPUC, Mayor Fred Armstrong; Columbus City Council Member Ann DeVore; Jason Hester, executive director of the Columbus Economic Development Board; Ryan Hou, CEO and owner of LHP; and Jean Hou, Cummins Inc.

Ivy Tech will now form an advisory team to guide and support the effort and seek grant opportunities to help develop the program.

The agreement between Ivy Tech and Wuxi Professional College details staff exchanges, student exchanges, cooperation in running schools and the development of the professional co-constructions, co-operational courses and other relevant programs.  It will provide for the exchange of students, faculty and technology and an opportunity to compare approaches and methods between the two systems.

Ivy Tech Community College is the state’s largest public postsecondary institution and the nation’s largest singly accredited statewide community college system serving nearly 200,000 students annually.  Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana. It serves as the state’s engine of workforce development, offering affordable degree programs and training that are aligned with the needs of its community along with courses and programs that transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association.

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