by Joe King
First impressions matter.
Just ask NIU College of Business Dean Denise Schoenbachler, whose college soon will play host to a cohort of Chinese government officials based upon the success of a single meeting with Chinese Consul General Jun Liu.
Schoenbachler, along with Associate Dean Paul Prabhaker and the college’s Global Action Team, met Wednesday, Sept. 19, with Liu to discuss programs of interest. Scarcely a week later, the college was confirmed as a preferred educational partner, and plans already are being developed to provide management training to Chinese officials beginning in December.
“Mr. Liu was very impressed with what he saw here and has already identified a group of mid-to-senior level government employees that will spend next semester at NIU receiving MBA-level training,” said Prabhaker who had previously worked with Liu to establish similar programs at the Illinois Institute of Technology.
The list of officials includes mayors, deans and vice chairmen of various agencies.
“This is an extraordinary turn of events,” said Schoenbachler, who cited the strength of programs in the college and the attitude of the Global Action Team as factors she believes helped sway Liu.
“The team did a fantastic job of not only describing what we can provide in the classroom, but also explained our relationships with Chicago-area businesses and industries and the unique opportunities that creates for our students,” Schoenbachler said. “We approached Mr. Liu as we would a company that we hoped to partner with – looking for ways to match our strengths with his needs.”
Liu commented that no other university had ever approached him in that fashion.
While business was the topic of the day, there were indications that other colleges on campus might find similar opportunities to partner with the Chinese government. Liu was intrigued to hear more about programs in the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology, and the Master’s in Public Administration and science programs in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, that relate to environmental issues.
The fact that NIU can address such a wide variety of needs is part of its appeal, said Prabhaker, and it is a strength that will be useful as the university begins pursuing more international opportunities.
“Very few universities have the complete portfolio of education services that we have at our disposal and I am confident that we can put together a team that will meet their needs,” Prabhaker said.
The successful meeting with the Chinese Consul comes on the heels of a visit to China last spring by Schoenbachler, CEET Dean Promod Vohra, Provost Ray Alden and Executive Director of International Programs Deborah Pierce. That group established cooperative relationships with several Chinese business and engineering schools that also will send cohorts of students to campus in the near future.