President / Chancellor,
Oregon's three premier public universities testified on 2/14/07 before the House Education Subcommittee on Higher Education. The topic was China. The panels from each university made impressive presentations on each university’s activities and linkages to China. Oregon appears to have much faculty involvement in and expertise on China.
Each university, however, also submitted data on the number of students studying Mandarin and studying abroad in China. Details are on my website (see http://daveporter.typepad.com/dave_porter_weblog/2007/02/less_than_2_ore.html ). Given some ambiguities in the data, it appears that each university has less than 2% of its undergraduates taking Mandarin classes. Please correct me if I have the figures significantly wrong. No university had more than 19 students studying abroad in China.
These are not the statistics of a university system preparing a cohort of students to compete in the global economy of the 21st century.
I believe you would agree with this assessment. I think you would also agree that having less than 1% of Oregon's high school students graduating with two or more years of Mandarin does not bring a cohort of students to your university prepared to take the next steps needed for global competitiveness.
I am not aware of any pending action plans or budget proposals to improve these situations.
I urge you now to put forth proposals for change that will match the significance of the challenges and opportunities posed by a rising China. We cannot afford to lose another two years, this legislative session. The world, and especially China, will not wait on us. You know this. I do have my own $12 million K-16 proposals. Doing much less, while better than nothing, denies the profound importance to Oregon and the US of a rising China and of acting boldly now.
Please consider this an open letter. I am sending it to the three university presidents, the chancellor, members of the Board of Higher Education and members of the Oregon House and Senate Education committees. I will also post it on my website.
Respectfully – Dave Porter