AU exploring international campus opportunity

Published: Apr 1, 2010 8:00:00 AM
Media Contact: Ed Enoch,

Someday Auburn University may have a campus half a world away.

The AU board of trustees approved developing a proposal for a campus, possibly in Danyang, China, at its last meeting.

As part of its initial research, AU will look at the permitting process for the Chinese Ministry for Education, possible Chinese university partners and host communities.

"At this point, it is a longitudinal study," said Jim Killian, director of marketing and communications for the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering.

The resolution presented at the March 26 meeting in Columbiana represents a year of work, said Ralph Zee, associate dean for research for the college.

The process began about a year ago, but the idea has been around since AU President Jay Gogue's first year on campus.

"The seed was there two years ago," Zee said. "There was a vision, and now we put a little bit more substance into the vision."

The campus study is part of a larger initiative to increase international opportunities.

"The international program and expanding student and faculty horizons beyond the U.S. has always been a major push by our president," Zee said.

By establishing a presence in China, AU would be able to offer a broader international experience and better placed to recruit Chinese students, Zee said.

But the research is months away from producing results in a best-case scenario.

Zee said the effort will progress along three parallel pathways. For the campus to be a reality, it must fulfill the needs of AU, the strict permitting requirements of the Chinese Ministry of Education and sell the idea in the community which would house the campus.

AU is currently looking at Shanghai University and other institutions as possible partners.

Where and what form the campus will take remains undecided, Zee said.

"Obviously, there has to be a physical entity, but that is up in the air," he said.

Currently, an engineering campus offering undergraduate education with some research is the scope of the plan.

"We just need to start at a manageable scale," Zee said.