Ronald K. Machtley, president of Bryant University, raised his glass of baijiu, a Chinese white liquor, and toasted the signing of two new educational partnership agreements with the People’s Republic of China, paraphrasing a Chinese saying popularized by Mao Zedong: “Each new partnership begins with a single step.”
The signing ceremony took place at the president’s residence on April 7, featuring a delegation of Chinese officials led by Ping Hao, the vice minister of education for the People’s Republic of China, the equivalent of U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
Under the first new partnership agreement, Bryant would create its own campus in southern China at the Beijing Institute of Technology in Zhuhai.
“We will have our own campus in southern China, teaching Chinese, American and Southeast Asian students,” Machtley told Providence Business News.
“We hope to start this fall,” he continued, saying that Duke University and New York University already have received their temporary approvals. “We hope to be the next approval,” he said.
Though Bryant has a signed document, it is still awaiting an official temporary approval, the next step in the process. Hao has the authority to grant that but did not do so at the ceremony. All such approvals must come from the Chinese government, and Bryant expects that to happen.
The first agreement was signed by Machtley and Taoguang Wang, chairman of the board of the Beijing Institute of Technology in Zhuhai, where the new Bryant campus will be located.
The second partnership agreement creates a new home for the U.S.-China Institute and the Confucius Institute on the Bryant campus, a building that will be a reconstruction of a section of the Forbidden City, or Shu Fang Zhai, the only such replica in the world, according to Machtley.
Under the agreement, Chinese students will come to study at Bryant to earn their master’s degrees in environmental management.
Machtley likened the new agreements to building two ends of a bridge, with Bryant’s school in China as one end, and the replica of the Forbidden City [on the Bryant campus] as the other end.
Machtley said the new joint educational partnerships will open doors for small businesses in Rhode Island to expand operations and markets to China, and for Chinese investors to connect with Rhode Island companies. “We could be the catalyst to help jump-start the Rhode Island economy,” he said.