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Hawkins to 1+2+1 Presidents Forum: International students bring value to U.S. campuses

July 15, 2019

Troy University was one of the first institutions to join the 1+2+1 Program, a groundbreaking partnership between American and Chinese universities that has paved the way for thousands of Chinese students to study in the U.S.

The 1+2+1 program has not only benefited the Chinese students, it has also been transformative for Troy University, said Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr.  Speaking in China to an audience of staff and leaders from 1+2+1 Program partner institutions, Dr. Hawkins said, “The story we have in the Sino-American dual degree program is a big story, one that’s getting bigger each year.”

In 1990, Troy University enrolled only 40 international students at the Troy Campus. Today, more than 1,000 international students, from 76 nations, attend TROY, including 425 from China. The 1+2+1 partnership was the catalyst that led to greater internationalization at TROY, Hawkins said, creating a global learning environment that benefits all students.

“This is not a one-way partnership,” Hawkins said. “Like any good partnership, it’s mutually beneficial. Our vision is to graduate students who are globally competitive, and I suggest to you that you cannot be globally competitive if you are not globally aware.”

Dr. Hawkins delivered a keynote address in June to the annual Sino-American University Presidents’ Forum at Chongqing Normal University in China. The gathering of university leaders and staff gives partners in the 1+2+1 a chance to collaborate, train and strategize about the future of the program, said Sohail Agboatwala, Troy University’s Associate Vice Chancellor for International Affairs.

Dr. Hawkins meets with Chongqing Normal University President Meng Dongfang.

“This is always a great opportunity to connect with colleagues and exchange ideas,” Agboatwala said. “And Dr. Hawkins is highly regarded here as one of the founding fathers of this program.”

Formed in 2001, 1+2+1 is a partnership between the China Center for International Educational Exchange and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities that allows students at select Chinese universities to complete their first year of study in China, two years of study at an American partner institution and then their final year back in China. Graduates will then receive degrees from both institutions. The program has grown to include 127 Chinese universities, 39 U.S. universities, and more than 3,000 Chinese students have participated.

Dr. Hawkins and Troy University Board of Trustees member Karen Carter (center) talk to CNU leaders.
Dr. Hawkins and Troy University Board of Trustees member Karen Carter (center) talk to CNU leaders.

As it approaches its 20th year, 1+2+1 faces new challenges in the form of a tense political climate between the U.S. and China. Addressing the presidents’ forum, Dr. Hawkins said 1+2+1 had weathered similar challenges before, but the value of the educational exchange beteen the two countries will help 1+2+1 persevere.

“Global politics continue to influence this program … but I think it’s disingenuous for anyone to suggest that the United States does not benefit from international students,” Dr. Hawkins said.

International students make a $40 billion impact on the U.S. economy, Hawkins said, and they bring highly sought skills in math, science and technology. He encouraged other college presidents to invest in internationalization at their campuses, using the “three-legged stool” approach that has worked at TROY, emphasizing bringing international students to campus, establishing teaching locations in other nations, and creating study abroad opportunities.

“I think we’ve succeeded for three reasons,” Dr. Hawkins said. “We are totally committed to graduating students that are globally competitive and globally aware. We are committed to providing a great education in a beautiful setting that attracts people. But the most important thing is we are committed to providing a culture of caring so that every student knows they are important.”