Southfield, Mich. – Last week President Lewis N. Walker of Lawrence Technological University was visiting universities in China to negotiate agreements for student and faculty exchanges and the offering of joint degree programs. This week he travels to Bahrain, an island kingdom off the coast of Saudi Arabia, to bestow an honorary doctoral degree on the prime minister, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa.
Walker is using personal diplomacy to burnish an international reputation for Lawrence Tech and create a steady stream of foreign students who come to its Southfield campus to study.
Lawrence Tech seeks to prepare its students for leadership roles in the global economy, and Walker believes a good mix of international students helps achieve that goal.
“It helps our American students to have fellow students from different countries, cultures and backgrounds on campus,” Walker said. “It enhances the educational experience at Lawrence Tech and helps prepare all of our students for working more effectively in the global economy. Moreover, as we build Lawrence Tech’s reputation and partnerships overseas, it strengthens our value to the businesses and industries we serve right here in Michigan and the Great Lakes region. Thriving in the global economy is largely a process of building strong relationships. Assuring that the next generation of overseas leaders will have local ties aids such developments.”
Walker’s international campaign has paid off with 15 agreements with universities in China, Taiwan, India, Egypt, Jordan, Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, Germany and Canada. He expects to sign another half dozen agreements by the end of the year.
His current goal is to build enduring relationships with universities in India, China and the Middle East and to develop Lawrence Tech degree programs on the ground in these areas.
Walker’s latest trip to China – his third since becoming president and fifth overall – has resulted in three new agreements that have built on a reputation established by previous agreements. For several years Lawrence Tech professors have been teaching eight courses per academic year at Shanghai University of Engineering and Science (SUES). Students from SUES then come to Lawrence Tech for their graduate degrees. This program helped open the door for exchange agreement with new partners, including Sichuan University in Chengdu, China, a prestigious institution with more than 60,000 students.
“Academic programs on the ground in China will produce a flow of students to our campus,” Walker said.
For the spring term, Lawrence Tech had 664 foreign students from more than 30 countries, not including Canada – around 15 percent of the overall student body. Most foreign students at present come from India, China and Saudi Arabia.
Tuition payments for foreign students also help the university’s finances. By generating $14.3 billion in economic activity in the United States last year, foreign students are good business for American universities and their communities.
Foreign students value their exposure to English, which has become the language of international business. They also benefit from the style of education at American institutions such as Lawrence Tech that stresses the importance of critical and analytical thinking that can lead to innovation and entrepreneurship, according to Walker.
Earning a degree at an American university makes it easier for these students to get jobs with American and international companies. Those who return to their own countries have a greater appreciation of the United States.
“They become ambassadors for this region, Michigan and the United States for life. They are the future business partners of American companies,” Walker said.
During his travels Walker has met a number of leaders deserving of more recognition in the United States for their accomplishments. One way to provide that recognition is to award honorary doctoral degrees.
Last summer Lawrence Tech gave an honorary doctoral degree to Pope Shenouda III of Egypt, the world leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church. In May, Walker awarded an honorary doctoral degree to Sharad Pawar, India’s minister of agriculture and minister of consumer affairs, food and public distribution.
Bahrainian Prime Minister Khalifa will be honored June 24 for his leading role in establishing a dynamic free market economy and creating the infrastructure for an innovative and socially and environmentally sustainable society. Since he became prime minister in 1970, he has made great progress towards eliminating poverty in his country through the provision of housing, health care and education opportunities.
Lawrence Tech President Lewis N. Walker and Lawrence Tech Provost Maria Vaz traveled to Bahrain in January to meet with the prime minister and other officials. They discussed the possibility of offering Lawrence Tech degree programs in Bahrain in engineering, computer science, architecture and management.
“The prime minister has been a good friend to Lawrence Tech and has supported our efforts to establish new educational programs in Bahrain,” Walker said.
Lawrence Technological University, ltu.edu, offers over 80 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degree programs in Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Management. Founded in 1932, the 4,500-student, private university pioneered evening classes 75 years ago, and today has a growing number of weekend and online programs. Lawrence Tech’s 102-acre campus is in Southfield, with education centers in Lansing, Livonia, Clinton Township, Traverse City and Petoskey. Lawrence Tech also offers programs with partner universities in Canada, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.