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(PDF) (DOC) (JPG)November 24, 2003

(Mahwah) – Ramapo College of New Jersey President Rodney D. Smith and his wife, Dr. Christina Ramirez-Smith, recently traveled to China on behalf of the College and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ Sino-American Leadership Training Initiative. The initiative creates exchange programs between American senior level administrators and colleges and universities in China. Ramapo College is one of only 12 institutions nationally to be selected for this new initiative.

The trip was tremendously successful,” says Dr. Smith. The first four days were spent in Beijing, where the Smiths were members of an American delegation to create cooperative relations between the American Association of State Colleges (AASCU) and Universities and the Chinese Association for International Education Exchange (CAIEE).

In Beijing, President Smith delivered a presentation on a comparison between the Chinese and American systems of higher education, focusing on the differences between the Chinese centralized and the American decentralized structures. He also represented Ramapo College in the Fourth Annual International Education Career Fair at which 30,000 Chinese students were in attendance. The president met with the counsel general of the American Embassy to discuss visas and how to better manage exchange programs between American and Chinese colleges. During this discussion, the feasibility of a 1-2-1 educational exchange program was explored. This program would allow students from both Ramapo and the Chinese host institution to exchange students in the sophomore and junior years with travel permitted on a visiting scholar’s visa.

While in that major city, President Smith continued talks with the AASCU Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. George Mehaffy, and the AASCU Director of International Education, Dr. Arlene Jackson, regarding Ramapo College becoming the national center for Chinese education programs. This would resemble a program initiated by AASCU and funded by the DuPont Foundation several years ago that involved Japanese education programs, housed at San Diego State University.

The President and his wife left the American delegation and continued to Dali City, where they began a marathon of meetings, signing ceremonies and formal events. There, President Smith signed an agreement making Ramapo College the first American institution of higher education to have an established exchange program with Dali University.

President Smith and Dr. Ramirez-Smith made presentations to groups of about 300 on the American higher education system. Dr. Ramirez-Smith, former dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Education at Christopher Newport University in Virginia, spoke at the medical school and the President delivered his presentation at the teachers college.

Dali University is unique and is located in an area that is called the Garden of China,” notes President Smith. It is spring-like all year long.” The University has a medical research facility, a 500-bed hospital, a school of pharmacy, a medical school and a teachers college. It is also where Dr. Li Shu – nan, a professor and medical researcher, discovered the vaccine for the SARS virus. As a result of its emphasis on and successes in pharmaceutical research, Dali University has expressed an interest in forging an exchange program for their students and faculty to take courses in Ramapo’s bioinformatics major.

The university’s faculty is interested in learning more about Ramapo College’s teacher education program and creating exchanges of faculty, staff and students. The university has also asked Ramapo to provide an exchange professor of American literature as a result of a grant they’ve secured to fund the position.

Ramapo College is now poised for major expansions in international education programming and is moving forward in order to take advantage of these and other valuable opportunities,” says Smith.

The journey continued in Shanghai, where the Smiths spent two days at Shanghai Normal University. There, they met with the Chinese delegation that visited Ramapo in 2002. The President also met with Dr. Yu Lizhong, the new president of Shanghai University, visiting academic areas and talking with the faculty. To mark the university’s 50th anniversary next year, an international education conference is planned. President Smith has been invited to present a paper on higher education leadership.


Ramapo College of New Jersey is the state’s premier public liberal arts college and is committed to academic excellence through interdisciplinary and experiential learning, and international and intercultural understanding. The College is ranked #1 among New Jersey public institutions by College Choice, has been named one of the 50 Most Beautiful College Campuses in America by CondeNast Traveler, and is recognized as a top college by U.S. News & World Report, Kiplinger’s, Princeton Review and Money magazine, among others. Ramapo College is also distinguished as a Career Development College of Distinction by, boasts the best campus housing in New Jersey on, and is designated a “Military Friendly College” in Victoria Media’s Guide to Military Friendly Schools.

Established in 1969, Ramapo College offers bachelor’s degrees in the arts, business, data science, humanities, social sciences and the sciences, as well as in professional studies, which include business, education, nursing and social work. In addition, the College offers courses leading to teacher certification at the elementary and secondary levels, and offers graduate programs leading to master’s degrees in Accounting, Business Administration, Creative Music Technology, Data Science, Educational Technology, Educational Leadership, Nursing, Social Work and Special Education, as well as a post-master’s Doctor of Nursing Practice.


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