The Oregon Board of Higher Education met on Friday, 3/5/10 at Portland State University’s new Academic and Student Recreation Center. The building is still being completed. The Chancellor now has offices there. The Board now has its own Board meeting room. It’s on the fifth floor with a rooftop terrace outside (see photos).
I was there handing out flyers saying “Please increase the number of OUS undergraduates studying Mandarin.” See text below.
Prior to the full Board meeting, I looked in on the Academic Strategies Committee meeting. They are in the process of considering eleven “priority topics within three broad areas strategic areas needing particular focus during 2009-10.” (see here) One of the three broad areas is “Economic development and job creation” within which they are considering (a) Sustainability, (b) Globally competitive research, and (c) Portland higher education connections to economic development. They are not considering strengthening foreign language programs so their graduates can better sell Oregon’s goods and services abroad, nor more Mandarin programs to target the China market, nor more study abroad opportunities for OUS students.
Here the text of the flyer I distributed:
To the Board of Higher
Please increase the number
of OUS undergraduates studying Mandarin
Prepare Oregon for the 21st century economy
- On 2/14/07, the three major Oregon public universities testified before the Oregon House Education Subcommittee on Higher Education. They each reported that less than 2 percent of their undergraduates were then studying Mandarin. Percentage were: OSU: 1.62%; PSU: 1.55%, and U of O: 1.11%. The OUS was not then preparing sufficient numbers of Mandarin fluent students for Oregon to be successful in the global economy.
- There has been no follow-up. No further report by any campus or by the OUS system as a whole has been made public. We do not now know what percentages of undergraduates are currently studying Mandarin. Nor do we know what the numbers and levels of Mandarin proficiency of OUS’s four year graduates are. The Board of Higher Education should annually monitor and publish these statistics.
- In the 2010 special legislative session, both Oregon legislative houses unanimously passed HB 3628 and SB 50. Both bills stressed the importance of more Mandarin programs in Oregon’s K-12 educational system. Both bills called on the Superintendent of Public Instruction to coordinate with the Chinese agency Hanban to bring more K-12 Mandarin teachers to Oregon. Oregon’s public higher education also needs to do more.
- With 1.3 billion people, China has more than four times as many people as the United States. With a GDP approaching $5 trillion, China now has an economy about one-third the size of the $14 trillion US economy. But China’s economy is now growing much more rapidly than ours. Various recent forecasts estimate that China’s economy will be as large as the US economy in 2027, or 2032, or 2035. Two forecasts for 2050 have estimated China’s economy as either 20 percent larger than or twice as large as the US economy. This large, growing market is an economic opportunity for Oregon