Kean University commits to expanded international exchanges as Wenzhou-Kean University enters global spotlight

Kean University committed to expanding its international student exchange initiatives this week as senior Chinese leaders publicly lauded the Union-based university for being a model for the cooperative programs on its growing campus in Wenzhou, China.

Ten years ago, the China Ministry of Education officially approved the establishment of Wenzhou-Kean University, and Kean remains the only public university in the U.S. to have a campus in China.

On Friday, 800 students graduated from WKU.

President Xi Jinping of China issued a public letter to Kean President Lamont Repollet commending the school on its exchange programs at WKU. Repollet committed to further building the program over the next five years in support of the Chinese president’s goal of bringing 50,000 American youth to study at Chinese universities.

“We are honored and humbled that President Xi recognizes the outstanding academics, research and exchange programs at WKU,” Repollet said. “International exchange provides students from both countries the opportunity to expand their personal and professional horizons. They are particularly valuable for first-generation students and those from disadvantaged backgrounds who experience a new culture for the first time. We are glad to be at the forefront of shaping the leaders of tomorrow in both countries.”

“WKU provides students with a truly unique world-class education,” Frank Wang, chairman of the WKU board of directors, said. “Our graduates attend some of the most prestigious graduate schools in the world and work at major companies. They are shaping our collective future.”

In his letter, which received international media attention, Xi recognized Kean President Emeritus Dawood Farahi, who collaborated with Xi in developing WKU over a decade ago when Xi was the leader of Zhejiang province, which has a decades long sister-state relationship with New Jersey.

“It’s wonderful to see our vision for WKU come to fruition,” Farahi said. “Its growth as a research institution has truly exceeded my expectations. More importantly, students from both sides of the world continue to benefit from an American-style education in China.”

Ada Morell, a member of the Kean board of trustees, served as board chair when Kean dedicated the new campus in Wenzhou, which now contains lab spaces, residence halls, faculty housing, athletic facilities and several new academic buildings.

“It’s been a great privilege to be part of this international initiative,” Morell said. “I’ve seen firsthand how students’ eyes are opened in so many ways by learning around the world. It is an invaluable experience for these students.”

Kean Senior Vice President Felice Vazquez said Kean will add additional programs and research opportunities for students in the U.S. to study at the WKU campus.

WKU Executive Vice Chancellor Cary Anderson said more than 240 faculty from around the world serve students in 18 undergraduate and nine graduate programs at WKU.