When Dr. Pamela Eddy had to re-book the venue a second time due to space concerns she knew something special was happening. “We ended up having about forty people in attendance, faculty and students. It was standing room only!”
The event drawing representatives from every School of the College of William and Mary was a presentation given by visiting scholar Aimin Li, “Higher Education of China on its Way of Development: The Past and the Future.”
Dr. Li, an Associate Professor at the Central University of Finance and Economics in Beijing, China, has spent the past three months exploring how the history of William & Mary relates to the personality of the College, something many Chinese universities lack. Instead of cultivating distinct characters, institutes of higher education concentrate on “key” status, or a level of academic excellence which makes gaining entry extremely difficult.
For Emily Hogge, Study Abroad/ISSP Programs and Services Assistant at the Reves Center for International Studies, Dr. Li’s remarks made a direct connection to her work. “In his presentation, Dr. Li emphasized how competitive it now is for students to get into the top Chinese universities.” Many of these students, unable to find academic places in their home country, turn to international education as another option. “We’ve seen a recent increase in the enrollment of Chinese students at William & Mary, and other universities around the US are seeing similar trends,” notes Hogge. “This was the first time I’d heard a possible explanation for this increase.”
Dr. Li chose William & Mary as the site of his study after speaking with Dr. Bihong Li, whose visit to William & Mary was sponsored through Dr. Eddy’s Reves Faculty Fellowship for the 2010 – 2011 academic year. The two had been doctoral students together in China, and when Dr. Aimin Li approached her about potentially researching at William & Mary, Dr. Bihong Li immediately put him in contact with Dr. Eddy. Though Eddy had no plans to host another international colleague, she couldn't turn down the opportunity to continue expanding international networks.
“It’s a connecting of the dots in building relationships,” explains Eddy. “It’s very, very exciting.”