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SUNY Potsdam to be home to five Chinese students from earthquake ravaged region

07.24.08

Of the 150 Chinese undergraduate students who will be attending State University of New York Colleges this fall as part of SUNY’s initiative to provide an education to students from the Sichuan Province of western China, the site of a massive earthquake in May, five will call SUNY Potsdam home for the next year.

SUNY Potsdam is among the 22 SUNY campuses participating in the China 150 program by opening its doors to these students, who come primarily from 40 counties around Wenchuan, the center of the quake. SUNY Potsdam’s five students will arrive August 12 and participate in the fall, Winterim and spring semesters.

The goal is to build a team of young leaders based on their common experiences in the U.S. When they return to China, these men and women will help re-build the local economy and infrastructure in the earthquake-impacted region. Each student has committed to return to China upon completion of the program in May 2009 and to a period of national service in Sichuan to help with the rebuilding effort.

“SUNY Potsdam is thrilled to be able to host these five Chinese students at a time when their country most needs young men and women to come forward and help with the rebuilding process,” said SUNY Potsdam President Dr. John F. Schwaller. “We are confident that the skills they learn and the abilities they strengthen here will go a long way toward helping their country after it was so tragically ravaged by the earthquake. Potsdam’s students will also benefit from these students, as their presence reinforces the desire for our students to become global citizens.”

“On behalf of all New Yorkers, we are pleased to welcome these students to our State University system and to ensure that there is no interruption in their college studies despite the tragic natural disaster that hit Chengdu in May,” said New York Governor David Paterson. “SUNY will provide these students with valuable leadership training which will help prepare them to return to China to assist with rebuilding efforts and the aftermath of the earthquake. SUNY’s deep educational ties with China allow our state university campuses to play a global role – and to be at the forefront of international educational experiences.”

“The State University of New York has a long and mutually productive relationship with a number of Chinese Universities, particularly in Jiangsu Province,” said Carl Hayden, Chairman of the SUNY Board of Trustees. “This initiative further strengthens SUNY’s ties to China even as it provides desperately needed humanitarian support for students from Sichuan Province displaced by the devastating earthquakes of last May. It enjoys support at the highest levels of both the Chinese government and our own.”

“We see this program (the SUNY China 150 Program) not only as a way to grow educational cooperation and exchanges with SUNY, but also as a critical first step in helping to expand mutually beneficial economic and commercial relations between Sichuan Province and New York State,” said Wang Fengxiong, Vice Director of the Education Department of Sichuan Province.  

“SUNY has been collaborating with Chinese universities for more than 25 years,” said Interim Chancellor Dr. John B. Clark. “I commend Governor Paterson for his support of China 150 and thank each of the SUNY campuses for their participation in this most important international initiative.”

The 150 students were chosen after a careful review of their academic performance as well as English language testing conducted by a team of eight experienced English language teachers from across China.

The selected students had to be Sichuan residents and were selected from four national universities under the leadership of the Ministry of Education in Beijing and from among several local/provincial colleges and universities in Sichuan. Students were assigned to various SUNY campuses through a sorting process that involved a team of experienced academic administrators. Assignments were made on the basis of student interests as well as the ability of the respective campuses to accommodate additional students from abroad in currently available spaces. There is no impact to current student enrollment or fall applications.

During the 2007-2008 academic year, SUNY Potsdam welcomed 31 undergraduate and graduate Chinese students to campus.

Media contact:

Alexandra Jacobs Wilke, Office of Public Affairs,
(315) 267-2918