Faculty Experience at the First Undergraduate American Business Education Program in China (Kean University, Wenzhou Campus).
By Jeonghwan (Jerry) Choi, Assistant Professor at College of Business, WKU.
August 05, 2016.
In 2006, Dr. Dawood Farahi - the president of Kean University of New Jersey suggested Mr. Xi Jinping (Prime Minister of China) establishing a four-year degree granting higher education institution in China to teach Chinese students in China in the American way.
Photo source: http://grad.kean.edu/sites/default/files/Images/wenzhou%20gift.jpg
In 2016, Kean University, Wenzhou in China becomes the most influential Sino-foreign cooperative university, and the institution produces the first graduates on the campus.
186 Chinese students and one American student get the first four-year Amercian higher education degree in mainland China in May, 28, 2016.
Around 100 students graduate with 4-year business degrees majoring Accounting, Finance, and Global management. And around 70% of business graduates go to Global graduate colleges such as University of Chicago, Johns Hopkins, Northwesern, Oxford, Australian National University, Tsinghwa, Peking University. The high enrolling in these prestigious global graduate program in business is exceptional.
Coming to the Kean University, Wenzhou Campus
I had worked as a management faculty for Kean Univeristy, Union campus, New Jersey from Aug. 2014.
In July 29 2015, Kean University offered me a full-time faculty position at Wenzhou, China campus. I cordially accepted the offer and I prepare going to China. The key working conditions were: 10 Month appointment, 30 credit hours teaching load, $65,000 annual payment; free accommodation; two times round trip tickets between US and China per year; two-years contract.
I accepted the China campus job offer for three reasons.
First, I wanted to experience another global experience in an emerging nation like China. Throughout my professional and educational journey, I experienced many global exposures in the US, Germany, and Korea. And I feel that China is attracting me to let me have a chance to give another wonderful and exotic experiences.
Second, I wanted to know what is going on in China in the field of (Global) Business Education. Shaun Rein (2012) - The author of "The End of Cheap China" insisted that "China Needs American Education" especially in Business Education to develop the right business people for global economy within Chinese territory. A few American Universities such as Duke and New York University operate Shanghai campuses for several years, and many American Universities want to expand their global initiative in China. However, we have little known about 'what is going on in American Business Education in China'? I want to take a role of 'a microscope' to observe and archive what I will be experiencing in American Business Education in China.
Third, Wenzhou is an interesting and fascinating entrepreneurial city in the world. Xi Jinping - the current Prime Minister of China was the Governor of Zhejiang province between 2002-2007. Xi frequently praised the entrepreneurship of Wenzhou people, and he supported Wenzhou city to train their next generation in the global environment. Wenzhou city can be understood as a 'hidden champion city' in global economy.
With these reasons, I decided to come, see, and learn about Wenzhou in China to get to know more about 'real changes of China'.
Arriving at Wenzhou
In September 08, 2015 (in my birthday), I took an airplane from Seoul to Wenzhou. I departed from Seoul, Korea because I needed to get a Chinese visa in Korea as a Korean Passport Holder. Two large pieces of luggage and a carry-on were enough to move to China.
First Impression on Kean University, Wenzhou Campus.
The 300-acre well designed and newly established campus make gave me a nice first impression. Four educational buildings, an administrative building, a canteen, and five apartment style dormitories are on the campus. A large Global business building is now under construction, and the building will start operating from September 2017.
Business Faculty in Kean University, Wenzhou Campus
Faculties are living in three sites: On-campus, Chashan Apartment, and Xin-Tian-Wien Apartment. Especially all new business faculty were highly encouraged to stay in Chashan Apartment (GaoJiao BoWien) for better collaboration.
The Business faculty has diverse ethnic, professional, and national backgrounds.
20% of faculty (including me) members directly come from Kean University, Union (20%).
60% of faculty are hired by Kean university and they were expatriated (60%).
20% of faculty are Chinese born (20%).
15% of faculty have Chinese experiences in higher education.
However, all faculty has American educational background (mostly PhD from US educational institutions such as Temple University, University of Illinois, University of Wisconsin, Drexel University, University of Michigan etc.) or Globally prestigious English speaking educational institutions (such as University of Edinburgh).
In order to work as a faculty member in China, Foreign faculty needs to register as a registered Alien in China to get working permit. Work-permit is given after a thorough medical check and document investigation (i.e. criminal history). Faculty can renew working permit annually. Some of faculty members experienced difficulties to get working-permit because of health issue, passport expiration, and unknown reasons. However, all faculty could get working-permit within two months, fortunately.
Business Students in Kean University, Wenzhou Campus
Around 2,000 students are studying business in Kean Wenzhou campus (2016). Students who joined Kean University, Wenzhou campus are mostly Chinese students. 40% of students come from Wenzhou area, 20% students come from Ningbo (a big city near to Shanghai), and the other students come from all around the China such as HeBei, Shanxi, Shandong, Tsingtao, Beijing, and Chongching. Recently American exchange students from Kean Union campus vitalize classes. The student diversity is expected to increase as the school size is increasing. Kean Wenzhou plans to recruit more international students from Asia (Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, HongKong, Malaysia, Vietnam) and all around the world as well as increasing diversity within China to boost global business education.
40% students are majoring Finance, 35 students are majoring Accounting, and the other students (25%) are studying Global management. 65% students are female and 35% are male.
The Majority of Kean Wenzhou students come from Chinese middle class. From my personal communications with students, many business students come from small-medium size business family. And students are expected to complete graduate level business education and take over their family business. For example, a student will take over a Hotel in Hangzhou and she wants to grow the hotel as an international one in the city. Another student will take over an apparel manufacturing company. He is expected to explore the enterprise as a global fashion brand. As such, many Chinese business students want to get the global business education in order to expand their family businesses to global business.
Business Classes in Kean University, Wenzhou Campus
I teach management courses such as Principles of Management, HRM, OB, and Business Statistics in Kean Wenzhou campus since 2015 Fall term.
The average size of business classes is 32~36. It is relatively large class size, but learning outcomes are better than my expectation thanks to high level of students' class engagement. 100% of students reside in campus dormitory, and students are quite homogenous in terms of age and learning background. For example, all business students gained the top 10% of Chinese Entrance Exam (Gaokao) and majority of these students have very supportive family background in learning and they do not need to worry about tuition because family take care of it. All students have laptops and smartphones especially more than 70% students have most recent Macbook and iPhones for study.
However, It is not easy to apply experiential learning instruction methods such as semester-long individual or team project, term-papers, or project-based learning because of large class size and limited access to learning materials such as Business Simulations that come from Amercian Publishers (Pearson, Wiley).
Academic Integrity is a big issue on Chinese campus. A business professor found many cheating sheets during her exam (see the below picture). And she officially issued the cheating issue. The Cheating issue was also found in Online exam format. My officemate designed a sophisticated online exam by using Blackboard (Learning Management System) for his Finance course. During the online exam, a few number of students took screenshots of the online exam and shared them with the other students. This cheating issue was extrapolated in public and a local Chinese newspaper reported the issue.
Business students tend to using "Authorized MS Office Program" when they got my guide and instruction (More than 60% students strongly [6/6 likert scale) wants to get the authorized software .
From 2016-17 academic year, I and a few number of Faculty, Staff, and students (Margaret, Caroline, Casey, Echo) would actively engage in "Using the Authorized Software in Campus" initiative with the "Quality First Initiative Fund" ($20,000 from Kean HQ) with aiming to increasing the "More than 80% of business students use authorized MS Office program in the college of business" until the end of 2016-17 academic year.
Extracurricular Business Education in Kean University, Wenzhou Campus
Kean University Wenzhou campus business students actively enroll in many extracurricular activities such as "Business Plan Competition in the US", "Campus Shark Tank Event", and "Research Day".
First, I organized the "Kean Business Plan Competition 2016" as a coordinator of the event in Wenzhou campus. Six business students teams applied the event in New Jersey, and two teams get the first and the second prize.
Article: Two WKU teams won top prizes at 2016 Kean Business Plan Competition
Here are two winners' Business Plan Presentations that I recorded and edited and sent for the BPC conference (You can hear my voices in Q&A sessions in these videos ).
Much better than my personal expectations, Kean University Wenzhou campus business students are enthusiastic in developing and executing their creative and entrepreneurial ideas in a professional manner. I was quite proud of myself that I am a part of those entrepreneurial students' growth.
Second, I played as a "Shark" in the entrepreneurship activity of "Kean University Wenzhou Shark Tank". Seven business student-led campus entrepreneurship teams presented their business ideas in front of 12 refrees including local business leaders, business faculty, and school administrators. And the first prize winning team got the authority of operating their business idea in the school bookstore now. A 'Social Dog Cafe' - the first winner of last year Shark Tank event operates the cafe on campus and 6 students run the business in a quite successful way. As such, Wenzhou campus supports students' entrepreneurial ideas and gives students experiencing the 'real business operation' on campus.
Third, Business students are highly encouraged conducting 'research' by the school and faculty. The school organized a "Research day" event every year to inspire students and faculty engaging in creating new knowledge. Students bring their research questions to faculty and they organize their research idea, conduct data collection, analyze the data, and present their findings in research day. Two of my students won the second and third prizes from the events.
Learning about the Second Largest Global Economy - China
"Do I really know about the China?"
The inquiry drove me to go China and experience the real 'China' - the second largest global economy. Born in South Korea, Trained as a German Engineer, Developed as an American Researcher, I wanted to know about 'what is going in China?'.
Chinese cheap manufacturing?
Boosting or Collapsing global economy?
Without situating myself in the Chinese context, I thought my understanding about China would be limited. And I traveled Shanghai, Hangzhou, Wenzhou, and a few small / large traditional Chinese villages.
I have to confess that China is too big enough to understand in short. But I could develop a keen 'sense' of China. For example, China cannot be understood in one-dimensional way. The most advanced technology-based economic development is flourishing in China (see the fastest bullet train in the world, Mobile phone manufacturing, Electric vehicles, and tons of thousand scientists and engineers), but the nation also have traditional culture and disrupted social norms for 'Cultural revolution' and 'less developed business disciplines.
In one sentence, I want to say that "China has many unleashed potentials".
It will be our own choice that will determine the way of unleashing potentials - good way or bad way?. I want to dedicate myself to guide the Young, not only Chinese but also all global, to choose a good way that creates prosperity for all.
By 2020, China aims to support a total of 50,000 Chinese and American students to study in each other's territory.
The unique higher education model of Kean University Wenzhou campus (American Business Education in China) can take a role of "Litmus" - a practical indicator of American Business Education model in a different cultural context. So far, the model works well in China.
In the first graduation ceremony of Kean University Wenzhou campus in May 2016, Faculty, Staff, Wenzhou city, the University, and China celebrated the great achievement of the first graduating students. Yes, those graduates, 4-year American college degree granted, achieved exceptional outcomes such as more than 70% students go to prestigious Graduate Programs all around the world (University of Chicago, Johns Hopkins, NYU, Emory University, Oxford, Australia National University). There is no doubt about those graduates' bright future.
However, we need to continually give constructive challenges to the undergraduate American Business Education in China in order to make the global business education model sustainable and flourish.
First, 'How to continually develop faculty capability'? Kean University provides the 'Professional Development Session' in Wenzhou campus in every semester. But faculty in Wenzhou feels that they are isolated or detached from mainstream research / teaching community. For example, geographic distance from the US deters faculty's engagement in interacting with global research communities. Another one is limited access to research / teaching resources - Google, Youtube, and some Databases are blocked by the Chinese Great Firewall. Fortunately, Wenzhou campus applies the VPN system to reroute the internet access and enable faculty to use blocked contents but limited access to research and teaching source limits the developing faculty capability.
Second, "How to improve the faculty retention rate?". Around 30% of newly hired foreign faculty leave the Wenzhou campus. The two main reasons of leaving faculty are 'Quality of Life' and 'Insecure Job'. As a foreign worker in China, faculty experiences difficulties in communication and poor access to quality food/resource supplies. Outside of the Wenzhou campus, English is not working well. Consequently, faculty cannot supply what they need to make a living. In addition, limited transportation system deters faculty to explore or outgoing.
Almost half of faculty experience significant weight loss during a semester because of limited access to quality food. Wenzhou campus has two Chinese canteens but the food quality and safety are not satisfactory. Many faculties complain about the food issue, but canteens need more time to improve the food quality and safety. Unmet hygiene needs in China causes many faculties rethinking about working in the Chinese workplace.
More than half faculty members come to Wenzhou campus with Single-year or Two-year contracts. Renewing the contract is frequently ambiguous and unclear, and many faculties feel unsafe on the campus. The basic quality of life and job security may need to be addressed in order to retain quality faculties for the campus.
In summary, the undergraduate American business education model in China can be flourishing when it can build a mutual benefit between American educational institutions and Chinese high-quality business education demand. And American business education leaders need to manage those challenages from 'expatriated faculties'.
Jeonghwan (Jerry) Choi, PhD, MBA, ME