In reaction to the university’s announcement on Nov. 26 that it would be ending academic programs at the China Institute (UDCI), a branch of UD in Suzhou where hundreds of students have studied abroad, more than 150 individuals signed a letter to the academic provost, Dr. Paul Benson, asking the administration to reconsider its decision.
Dr. Benson had a meeting with juniors Kaelin Kelly, Emily Battaglia and me (all UDCI alumni) on Dec. 11 to discuss the issue. While we still ultimately disagree with the decision, we greatly appreciate Dr. Benson for taking the time out of his schedule to meet with us and explain why the university made this decision.
The discussion was friendly, open and supportive, even though we didn’t wholly agree with each other.
On a more positive note, the university is keeping the physical space for the China Institute for the time being. In the interim, it’ll be used for other operations, such as corporate trainings. Also, there are many affordable options for students who still want to study abroad in China (both semester-long and summer programs), which was a major concern of mine.
Interested students can learn more information from the Education Abroad office, which is in Alumni Hall 211.
Another issue that was addressed in the meeting was how students were informed about the end of study abroad at the China Institute; most of us found out from a local news article. Dr. Benson sincerely apologized for this.
Because the university is keeping the space, we hope that one day the China Institute will be used again for academic programs.
Kaelin, Emily and I want to thank Dr. Benson for agreeing to meet with us. He was friendly throughout and genuinely cared about our feelings and understanding of the decision. We cannot express our gratefulness enough.