Why has Oklahoma City University been able to move ahead of other
universities in the United States in providing masters degree
programs for the People's Republic of China?
That question is being asked by educators around the country,
since OCU has agreements for three of the four masters programs by
American universities in China, including two new ones and a masters
in business administration started in 1985.
As a matter of fact, that question was asked directly in a
letter to Dr. Jerald C. Walker, president of OCU, from Johns Hopkins
University of Baltimore.
"China is receiving visits from U.S. university officials every
day," said Dr. Michael Hwang, director of Asian studies at OCU.
"They are trying to establish programs in China, and they want to
know how we do it."
The overall answer involves what Hwang calls "cross culture
borrowing," in which OCU teaches programs that include application
of western methods and standards to the culture, customs and problems
However, he is more specific than that.
"Part of the answer is Dr. Walker himself, and the way he
approaches officials in China," said Hwang. "He is a typical warm
Oklahoman who is friendly and knows how to make people feel proud of
themselves as well as how to present OCU and its programs.
"Another reason is the way of China and its leaders. They judge
people first and the programs second. They have judged Dr. Walker
as a person they can understand and wants to learn about China."
While those factors certainly helped OCU acquire its original
contract in 1985 (the second masters program in China behind a
program by the State University of New York at Buffalo), a third
factor now must be included.
That has to be the performance of the first program for 42
students, with graduation scheduled this spring. OCU faculty
members have worked at learning about China and its approach to free
enterprise so they can teach the application of western principles
to China's system.
In effect, that displays respect for China and its particular
Walker, who has visited China six times, credits his Indian
grandmother and her use of Chinese traditional medicine for
whatever success he has had in dealing with Chinese officials.
"Before my first trip, I was advised by Gary Gray to treat the
Chinese like an Indian grandmother," said Walker, a native of Bixby.
"It so happens that I had an Indian grandmother. I understood that
I always had to treat her with respect for tradition."
Walker has approached Chinese leaders with that same respect for
their culture and traditions, said Hwang, who was born in the
Jiangxhi Province of China, educated in Taiwan and has spent 21
years in America.
Americans often are so busy selling their programs that they
forget to show respect for the Chinese.
"China's culture is thousands of years old," said Hwang, "and
the Chinese consider America a young country. While they need to
learn from us, they also want our respect."
One of the primary problems, said Hwang, is that Americans
expect too much from China, which is moving away from a Russian
model of a socialist and communist state to its own model, combining
some aspects of free enterprise with a socialist society.
That requires expertise in business, contract law, accounting
systems and education as well as technology. Under the Russian
model of operation, the primary insitutional leaders were
bureaucrats. Now, China is seeking leaders with expertise and
therefore education in specialized fields.
"We have to recognize that China started this movement just a
few years ago - in 1979 with the beginning of an open door policy,"
said Hwang. …