Interest in equine, business and communications programming
Murray State University (MSU) representatives traveled to China during the fall semester to extend its already strong relationship with Qingdao Agricultural University (QAU) in the Shandong Province. Discussions of faculty and student exchanges, a promising equine program and degree offerings were explored during the visit.
According to Dr. Jay Morgan, associate provost for graduate education and research at MSU, Murray and Qingdao share a mutual interest in establishing a Murray State M.B.A. program there and hosting QAU faculty in communications and ESL (English as a Second Language) here. The first exchange is slated for spring 2012 when Qingdao sends a communications staff member to shadow Murray’s faculty.
“It benefits MSU students as we continue to look for international partnerships and areas to strengthen our students’ international experiences, either by serving as a graduate assistant for QAU or on their own discovery-based program,” Morgan said. “In return, Qingdao is very much interested in our ways of teaching and in our ability to receive their students at Murray State for various degrees. We currently have between 40 to 50 QAU students at Murray and both universities want to see that number increase.”
An exchange agreement between Qingdao and Murray State was first signed in 2007 and put into practice in 2009.
“Being able to offer the M.B.A. in mainland China would be significant to the overall internationalization of the curriculum, the college of business and the university as a whole,” said Dr. Tim Todd, dean of the MSU college of business. “Our faculty would travel there to teach onsite and Qingdao would recruit a cohort of 35 or so graduate students for the program.”
The potential M.B.A. offering at QAU would stamp Qingdao, a city of 1,000,000 people, with the Murray State brand, Todd said, which benefits not only the university, but Kentucky and the region because of business relationships that would spin off from the program.
In fact, one of Kentucky’s premier industries could very well benefit from an intensified relationship between Murray State and Qingdao. Dr. Alyx Shultz, assistant professor of animal/equine health at Murray State, sees a very positive outcome for the commonwealth’s all-important equine industry. “I see a lot of potential for exportation of well-bred horses, semen and embryos to China,” said Shultz. “The funding and the interest appear to exist — we just need to make the connections between the right people.”
The first action step for Murray’s equine program is to set up a QAU faculty training on campus next summer. Specific equine-related potential areas of interest between the two universities in addition to that summer horsemanship training are sending MSU faculty and graduate students to Qingdao to teach a horsemanship course there, working toward QAU herd improvement and offering Murray State equine-focused post-baccalaureate or master’s degree programming there that would include basic horsemanship, intermediate horsemanship, advanced hunt seat or advanced stock seat, and breaking and training, along with the regular degree courses.
“Since Qingdao is considering the purchase of equine from Kentucky, we hope they will consider purchasing from our service area and, specifically, Murray State,” Morgan added.
The department of journalism and mass communications at Murray State is in the early planning stages of having a QAU faculty member with a background in digital media and animation spend a semester at Murray, followed by MSU faculty and students visiting China. Dr. Bob Lochte, chair of the department, noted that the television and film production unit at Qingdao is very professional and wants to explore a wider market audience. “Through our academic program and Murray State’s relationship with KET (Kentucky Educational Television), we may be able to help this unit become better known in Kentucky and the U.S.,” Lochte said.
Murray State’s connection to KET is strong, with Jim Carter, vice president of institutional advancement, on the board of Friends of KET and a liaison between MSU and KET. Carter, who has traveled to Asia numerous times, aided KET’s Bill Goodman in planning for his own trip this fall. Goodman is host of KET’s “Kentucky Tonight” and “One to One.”
“During my preparation and research for my trip to China, Jim Carter’s assistance, guidance and advice were invaluable to me. When anyone is planning a trip of this magnitude, the experiences from a seasoned traveler to the East can come in handy and Jim’s suggestions from what to wear to how many business cards to hand out became an important part of my planning. My trip was a success due in large part to Jim’s advice,” Goodman noted.
Planning for the expansion of the Murray State/Qingdao relationship will continue into the next year and beyond, Morgan noted.