Buffalo State Sends Three to China for AASCU Conference and Recruiting Fair

Three Buffalo State employees will head to China this month as part of a delegation with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU).

Lee Ann Grace, assistant dean of international and exchange programs; Lin Xia Jiang, chair and professor of fine arts; and Sandra Burnham, senior admissions adviser, will visit Beijing from October 19 to 22 as part of AASCU’s annual trip. Grace will attend a conference with AASCU delegates and faculty members from Chinese colleges, while Jiang and Burnham will participate in a two-day recruiting fair. The conference includes a briefing by U.S. Embassy officials regarding Chinese student travel overseas, and allows time for group sightseeing tours of the city and the Great Wall.

Grace hopes the experience will lead to a steadier flow of international students to Buffalo State. “The upcoming trip is an excellent opportunity to network,” she said. “And we’re trying the fair to get a feel for how it works.”

The fair is expected to draw 30,000 students and families, according to Grace. The full AASCU delegation includes only 75 people, so Buffalo State has an opportunity to capture attention on an international stage. President Muriel A. Howard currently serves as chair of AASCU’s board of directors.

“We’re hoping the fair will help us determine if these activities are worth more investments in the future,” said Grace. “We can learn from others who are used to regular international recruiting.”

Jiang will provide English-Chinese translation, offering a better first impression of Buffalo State for Chinese students and parents who do not speak English.

Grace thinks students interested in fine arts and design might particularly want to attend Buffalo State. “There are many reasons to come here,” she said. “We have many specialized programs, class sizes are small, and faculty members teach classes, rather than teaching assistants.”

Grace says students can learn better English at schools that do not have a large international population. She also says the prospect of their children studying in a bigger city can create a frightening impression for international parents. Nevertheless, Buffalo State’s proximity to Niagara Falls and Toronto is a draw for Chinese families. Buffalo’s low cost of living and many cultural attractions also appeal to students.

The provost is providing funding support for the trip, and AASCU is offering reduced rates. Grace will present research from the experience to the Academic Council in November. “This trip is one major step toward greater internationalization of the campus,” she said.