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Baker Report: A diverse, global outlook

July 14, 2015
NIU President Doug Baker chats with Nankai University President Gong Ke.

NIU President Doug Baker chats
with Nankai University President Gong Ke.

Prior to the Fourth of July holiday, I joined NIU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean Chris McCord in China to sign a historic agreement with Nankai University.

Two years in the making, this accord forms a partnership that creates the NIU-Nankai International College (NNIC), which initially will focus on economics and political science.

This new entity has been approved by the NIU Board of Trustees, and awaits final approval from the Chinese Ministry of Education and the U.S. Higher Learning Commission.

After approval, we anticipate the first cohort of NNIC students to enroll in 2016 for their first two years of study in China, and for the Chinese students from NNIC to arrive at our DeKalb campus beginning in 2018 for their second two years of study. NIU’s DeKalb-based students also will have the opportunity to study at NNIC, providing an exciting and engaging way to foster the development of crucial intellectual and interpersonal skills. Becoming a global citizen will transform the way our students see the world, deeply enriching their personal and professional lives.

For NIU students, the relationship offers not only the opportunity to study in China, but it brings a diversity of thought, culture and experience to DeKalb. This helps our students gain a greater self-awareness in a more diverse cultural context and enhances social development. Successful performance in today’s diverse workforce requires sensitivity to human differences and the ability to relate to people from different cultural backgrounds. Employers also value this cultural competence, which is increasingly important in the global economy.

NIU’s international programs are a key component of the diversity education our students receive. In fostering a welcoming and inclusive university environment, we continue to invest resources to help members of NIU’s diverse community connect with campus and DeKalb.

As international affairs continues to be a university priority in this regard, I am also pleased to welcome NIU’s first-ever chief diversity officer, Vernese Edghill-Walden, who will start Aug. 1. Dr. Edghill-Walden is a proven leader who will collaborate with all campus units to create a cordial and respectful academic atmosphere that embraces diversity as a dimension of excellence and tirelessly promotes a culture of openness and inclusion at NIU.

I look forward to expanding our international partnerships with Nankai and other institutions abroad as we continue to infuse a diverse, global perspective into the NIU experience.

Together Forward,