ISU president to speak at conference in China

August 16 2006

Indiana State University President Lloyd W. Benjamin III and Gaston Fernandez, executive director of the university's International Affairs Center, are traveling to China today (Aug. 16) at the invitation of Sichuan University to present a paper at an international conference of university presidents on the role of higher education in regional economic development. The conference is sponsored by the provincial government of Sichuan province.

"Universities can be a driving force in local economic development. In addition to being a major employer, a university can serve as a magnet to attract visitors to the area to attend various academic, cultural and athletic events. The expertise of a university's faculty can also be a tremendous resource in solving problems for business and industry and assisting new business startups," explained Benjamin.

The trip is being funded by three Chinese universities and the government of China's Sichuan province.

While in China, Benjamin will also pursue an expansion of educational partnerships viewed as critical to future business opportunities.

During visits to Liaoning and Liaoning Normal universities, Benjamin plans to work with administrators at the two institutions in northeastern China to establish transfer programs for Chinese students to study at ISU in several fields including information technology, education, and teaching English as a second language.

Benjamin also plans to establish protocols for visiting scholar exchanges funded by grants from the U.S. and Chinese governments, establish agreements to sponsor joint academic and business conferences in partnership with ISU's Networks Financial Institute, Indiana businesses and governmental agencies.

Benjamin's visit builds on existing partnerships Indiana State has with Liaoning and Liaoning Normal universities and comes on the heels of a visit earlier this year by a delegation from Indiana State, the Indiana Economic Development Corp., Indiana Department of Education and six K-12 school systems.

That trip, in March,included Fernandez; John Conant, professor and chair of ISU's department of economics and director of the university's Center for Economic Education; Jay Gatrell, assistant professor of geogaphy and coordinator of ISU's social science education program, and Kevin Snider, executive assistant to the president. The March visit focused on establishing business contacts in China and developing educational exchanges between middle schools in China's Dalian province and in Indiana.

"Universities can play a critical role in helping to promote a broader understanding of global issues," Benjamin said. "Through faculty and student exchanges, universities can also be an important ingredient in developing the networks of trust and reciprocity in international settings that help them to serve as the support for business ventures."

President Benjamin's prepared remarks to the conference -30-

Contact: El-Houcin Chaqra, associate director, International Affairs Center, Indiana State University, (812) 237-3085 or echaqraisugw.indstate.edu

Writer: Dave Taylor, media relations director, Indiana State University, (812) 237-3743 or dave.taylor@indstate.edu

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Indiana State University President Lloyd W. Benjamin III is traveling to China at the invitation of Sichuan University to present a paper at an international conference of university presidents on the role of higher education in regional economic development. The conference is sponsored by the provincial government of Sichuan province.

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