A long-standing relationship between the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech and the School of Economics and Management at Xidian University (XDU) in Xi'an, China, has resulted in a unique collaborative program that will welcome its first cohort of 100-120 students in Fall 2022.

Through a memorandum of understanding with the Chinese Ministry of Education, the XDU-VT 3+1 program will train future leaders — particularly management students that have an interest in applying big data technology to entrepreneurship, innovation, and technology — to work cooperatively to lead world-class entrepreneurial ventures.

For three years, students will take approved courses taught by Virginia Tech and XDU faculty in China, followed by 12 months of intensive coursework taught by Virginia Tech faculty in Blacksburg. They will earn bachelor’s degrees from both institutions.

“We are very happy to announce this unique program providing an excellent opportunity for students who will play an important role in building the future of technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship,” said Jennifer Clevenger, director of Global Study Abroad and the new joint program.

“The program is designed to present the bigger picture of global cooperation in business, particularly amongst the United States and China, the world’s two largest economies,” Clevenger said. “And its collaborative learning model will also give students a better understanding of the countries’ different philosophies.”

“The next generation of leaders from both nations need to be immersed and well versed in the business environs, cultures, and traditions of our respective nations,” said Guru Ghosh, vice president for Outreach and International Affairs. “Sino-American relations during the 21st century will be amongst the most important relationships of our age. Universities must continue to play an important role in bringing the citizens of our two nations closer together. I applaud the bold and transformative nature of the Xidian and VT partnership.”  

Since 2006, the two partnering universities have been building a relationship by engaging in inter-college activities, including six cooperative scientific research programs; six high-level cooperative papers; two undergraduate courses of international entrepreneurship; an innovation week; a postgraduate course and a doctoral joint training candidate; and visiting exchange scholars. Most recently, two Pamplin professors and one professor of English taught courses at XDU this summer.

Clevenger said the XDU-VT 3+1 program began to formulate about three years ago when the partners strengthened their affiliation through a series of face-to-face meetings on both campuses.

“The increasingly deep ties between Pamplin and XDU, and especially this 3+1 program, assure that faculty and students learn about the cultures and economies of each nation. The personal exchanges and friendships that will develop are an important outcome of the program beyond the material formally taught in courses. Learning through experiences is an important part of education at Virginia Tech,” said Pamplin Dean Robert T. Sumichrast

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Pamplin’s Department of Management is the main driver for the program. Students will specialize in the Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Technology (EIT) concentration option within the management major. While the majority of courses will be taught by faculty in management, faculty from other Pamplin departments and Virginia Tech colleges will also teach in the program.

Chinese students participating in this program will have the opportunity to be part of the Department of Management’s highly ranked entrepreneurship program,” said Devi Gnyawali, R.B. Pamplin Professor and head of the department. “And our students will benefit from working with a select group of Chinese students to develop a global perspective. So, this is a win-win arrangement for both sides and we expect it to be a model program for global entrepreneurship education.”

Xidian University, celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, is one of the earliest Chinese universities to establish information theory and information systems engineering. Since 2016, XDU has won 14 national awards in China, including the National Science and Technology award. They are also one of the prestigious “211” (special designation class for some universities in China) universities. XDU students average an entrance exam score of 580, compared to the average 420 at most Chinese universities.

A Joint Management Committee will implement the program and ensure its success, Clevenger said. This decision-making authority for the program is comprised of a variety of university officials from both universities. The entire committee will meet once a year in person, alternating between the United States and China and once a year via videoconference platform. 

“We are also in the process of forming an Academic Committee which will be responsible for monitoring the academic standards and maintaining those standards,” said Clevenger. “The committee, comprised of course professors and program directors, will meet at least once a year to ensure that VT and XDU’s high standard of quality remains intact throughout the program.”

Once the course begins in Fall 2022, several Pamplin professors will teach on the XDU campus during subsequent summer months to help build rapport with the students and familiarize them with understanding the college’s teaching style.

“We want our Chinese students to feel like they are part of the Hokie Nation even before they arrive on the Virginia Tech campus,” Clevenger said.

-        Written by Barbara Micale

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