By Jeff Murphy, January 18, 2022
Hengshui University President Shouzhong Wang participated in a virtual Memorandum of Understanding signing ceremony with representatives of his campus community in China and University of Central Missouri faculty members and leaders to establish new pathways for students to earn degrees from HSU and UCM. (HSU Photo)
WARRENSBURG, MO – The establishment of a 3+1+1 agreement with Hengshui University (HSU) in China is creating new educational pathways for students overseas to earn a University of Central Missouri (UCM) degree while also paving the way for faculty members to become visiting lecturers on each campus.
These opportunities are part of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that was signed during a virtual meeting on Jan. 5 that included administrative and academic leaders representing both institutions. It followed the development of a Joint Program that was previously approved through the Ministry of Education (MOE) in China. HSU President Shouzhong Wang and UCM President Roger Best signed MOU documents that were shared in the meeting.
Best, who referred to the event as “an historic day for the University of Central Missouri,” told HSU leaders that members of the UCM campus community are humbled by their generosity and spirit of cooperation and collaboration." He noted that the agreement provides the foundation for future cooperation to develop more academic program pathways and engage in faculty exchanges. He also pointed out that the campus community welcomes the opportunity to help support HSU students as they further their education.
“When students come to UCM and work hard, our faculty work equally hard to ensure these students are successful. When your students come to us from HSU, we know that they will be well-prepared and that they will work hard. We vow to work hard with them and support them during their UCM studies,” Best said.
Serving as the online meeting host, Laurel Hogue, vice provost for online and learning engagement at UCM, said both institutions initially submitted three Joint Program applications to the MOE in March 2021 for programs related to Mathematics, Statistics and Biology. UCM was notified on Nov. 10, 2021 that the Department of Education in Hebei Province, China, approved the Joint Program in Mathematics for a maximum of 100 students per year. This was followed by approval at the national level by the MOE. HSU is currently recruiting high school students to participate in this pathway.
“There were 400 Joint Program Applications submitted to the MOE in China last March and 24 were approved,” Hogue said. ”One of the 24 applications included HSU-UCM’s Joint Application in Mathematics.”
Under this this program, students will take courses at HSU during their first three years of college and complete the final year of their bachelor’s degree at UCM where they will continue on an accelerated path toward earning a master’s degree. These students will receive degrees from both universities, and they also have the opportunity to apply for a scholarship that will cover out-of-state fees. This would enable them to pay tuition at the same rate as in-state students.
The MOU serves as a general framework for collaboration between the institutions. HSU and UCM hope to submit additional joint applications to the MOE for approval in 2022. These programs include Computer Science and Data Science, Hogue said. Continued work and collaboration this spring will address the addition of other programs such as Actuarial Science and Statistics, Biology and Biotechnology.
As part of the agreement, UCM expects to have faculty members serving as lecturers at HSU by 2025. UCM also will welcome HSU faculty members to lecture on its campus.
“The signing of our 3+1+1 MOU represents the beginning of more work and collaboration ahead between our institutions. I am grateful for the collegiality, friendship, and successful collaboration with Hengshui University,” Hogue said.
UCM Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Phillip Bridgmon also took part in the online event. He stressed that this is an important partnership between the two universities that will benefit students and faculty.
“The selection of our program was made possible by the dedicated collaboration among our Hengshui and UCM colleagues,” Bridgmon commented. “We look forward to beginning our campus visits and engaging in this important work.”
Belinda Copus, interim chair of the School of Computer Science and Mathematics, was part of the UCM team that worked to make this academic opportunity possible. Speaking about the value of this new initiative, she noted, “In a world marked by distance and misunderstanding it is crucial to cross boundaries to find common ground. We're excited for the exchange of knowledge and culture this new relationship represents, and know it will enrich the learning and growth of our collective faculties and students.”
Founded as a normal school, but named Hengshui University in 2004, HSU has served Hebei Province for 123 years. It is a comprehensive, non-profit institution of higher education that is accredited by the province’s Department of Education.