HANCOCK, Mich. (WLUC) - Finlandia University announced further growth to an already fruitful relationship with Beihai College of Arts and Design in Beihai, China.
“It began with a phone call,” said Denise Vandeville, Dean of the International School of Art & Design. “A professor from Beihai was interested in coming to Finlandia, we showed him our studios and our culture.”
Over the last year Beihai and Finlandia faculty have met three times. Twice in China and that one visit in the U.S. In addition to Vandeville, Dr. Richard Gee, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice and Dr. Philip Johnson, Finlandia University President, made it to China for a visit.
“When President Johnson and President Zheng met, they realized how similar the mission and values of both schools were,” said Vandeville. “This is what has continued the relationship.”
This is the first sister school for Finlandia in Asia.
“Finlandia’s strategic vision calls for us to establish by 2021 robust relationships with institutions of higher learning on no fewer than four continents,” said President Johnson. “Joining hands with Beihai College of Arts and Design, Finlandia now has an opportunity to build an enduring partnership with its first institution on the Asian continent.”
The partnership makes sense for both schools due to shared visions and convictions.
“Our institutions share a common vision for higher education, a vision for graduating men and women prepared to address the needs of the world as well as to meet the demands of the workplace,” said Johnson. “In my visits with President Zheng it became clear that we share a core conviction: graduating men and women with certain human qualities is as necessary as graduating them with certain intellectual capacities and professional competencies.“
With such strong connections formed in such a short time, Johnson and Finlandia are looking to what this partnership means for the future.
“We are laying a foundation,” said Johnson. “Students on both campuses will benefit from art and design faculty exchanges that bring to the studio an enriched global perspective in various disciplines.”
Each school benefits from the partnership in their own way.
“Finlandia is able to provide Beihai students with its one-on-one, hands-on, mentor-style environment so characteristic of our International School of Art & Design,” said Johnson. “Beihai, in turn, provides Finlandia an opportunity to further internationalize and diversify its resident student population.“
The sister school partnership between Beihai College and Finlandia University is just one more step Finlandia has taken to solidify their growing presence abroad.