Kennesaw State University
M A G A Z I N E
Fall 2008/Winter 2009
Man on a missio
Cracking nitric oxide’s cod
KSU’s capital campaign updat
Ties that bind
By Sabbaye McGriff
he nexus between Kennesaw State and Asia’s giant goes back
to the 1980s. Today, the well-cultivated ties still run deep.
When the People’s Republic of China began opening its
markets to the world in the 1970s, a virtual wall came down, unveil-
ing unimaginable new opportunities and challenges.
Those who would enjoy successful ventures in China would have to
learn the requirements of “Guanxi” (pronounced gwan shee), a con-
cept embodying what the Chinese consider the logical development
of relationships. Unlike the typical Western approach that begins
with the transaction at hand and, if successful, evolves into sound
relations, “Guanxi” values the relationship above all else. If good,
Kennesaw State University was slightly ahead of the curve
in 1989, when it launched a formal faculty exchange agreement
with China’s Nanjing Normal University — KSU’s ﬁrst interna-
tional academic exchange and a relationship that still exists to-
day. Faculty and administrators who facilitated the agreement
logged thousands of miles and countless hours of meetings
and interchanges with ofﬁcials, faculty and students, sharing
dinners, cups of tea and polite conversations before any
agreement was inked.
In the ensuing 19 years, KSU has nurtured relationships
with ﬁve academic institutions across China, hosting more than 2,500 Chinese stu-
dents, faculty, ofﬁcials and businessmen and women in academic programs as well
as training sessions. China’s universities have welcomed more than 100 KSU students
in summer study-abroad programs and more than 100 faculty members in exchange
At the same time, KSU has emerged as a key regional player in promoting Chinese
language and culture. The university is one of only 10 sites in the U.S. that admin-
isters the Chinese government-approved language proﬁciency test in Chinese.
Over the past ﬁve years, 350 non-native Chinese language speakers have been
tested and certiﬁed at the KSU testing center.
The wisdom of “Guanxi” is intertwined in the continuing evolution of KSU’s
ties to China, which culminated last spring with the designation of the
campus as a site for a prestigious Confucius Institute to promote Chinese
language and culture — one of only two in Georgia.
Each new carefully cultivated relationship has created even more
opportunities for study-abroad, faculty exchange and special programs in China and
at KSU. The following pages feature some of the people and programs that reﬂect
KSU’s on-going efforts to develop “Guanxi” with its China partners.
18 | Kennesaw State University Magazine - Fall 2008/Winter 2009 |
The Art of the Network
For a decade-and-a-half, Ken Jin has built The program has grown since
hundreds of contacts in China, bringing 1993, from providing training for one client —
planning commission ofﬁcials from Jiangsu
thousands of Chinese ofﬁcials and
province in Nanjing Normal — to government
professionals to study at KSU clients in more than 50 locales throughout
China. In addition, it has provided executive
I t’s not the fact that Ken
Jin’s three-inch thick,
leather-bound business card
training to chief ﬁnancial, information and
logistics ofﬁcers from 192 of China’s
largest companies. Regular cor-
holder is so meticulously
porate customers include State
ordered — alphabetized by
Power Company, China National
city, industry, afﬁliation and
Packaging Corporation, China Aviation
name — that is so impres-
Industry Corporation and the Agricultural Bank
sive. It’s that he relishes each
of China. Some 80 percent of the program’s govern-
name and the value of every
ment and corporate training
contact in his card holder.
clients are repeats.
Ken Jin For 15 years, Jin, di-
Funded exclusively through contracts with govern-
rector of the Center for
ments and businesses, KSU’s training program was
International Training and Service in Continuing Education at
awarded the 2006 Georgia Governor’s Award for
KSU, has amassed a network of contacts in the course of de-
International Education. The award recognizes the pro-
veloping and marketing more than 150 training programs for
gram’s contributions to Georgia’s globalization and to devel-
2,533 Chinese government ofﬁcials, business executives and
oping contacts that beneﬁt business throughout the state.
In his daily blog for the Atlanta Business Chronicle from
Jin’s networking –– forged primarily through personal
the Summer Olympics in Beijing, Metro Atlanta Chamber of
contacts in China and the U.S. –– forms concentric circles of
Commerce President Sam Williams cited Jin and the univer-
business and academic opportunities. He has used contacts in
sity’s Center for International Programs among 16 local busi-
China to develop the training program, attracting a wider and
nesses, institutions and individuals with deep ties to China.
wider network of participants, from ofﬁcials of local and pro-
“We’re here enjoying in the fruits of their labor,” Williams
vincial governments to entrepreneurs and senior executives of
large private businesses.
The success of the program is due, in part, to Jin’s network-
At the same time, Jin, who was recently chosen to head the
ing and marketing prowess, which has helped land the pro-
Confucius Institute at KSU, promotes the university’s academic
gram onto China’s coveted training provider list. In 1999, the
programs to Chinese ofﬁcials every chance he gets.
Chinese national government selected KSU as one of ﬁve U.S.
When Chinese ofﬁcials and executives come to KSU for
sites — the only one in the Southeast — to provide executive
custom-designed training programs — everything from
training. Every year, the Chinese government publishes a little
management to marketing, economic development, ﬁnance,
black booklet with listings of approved and certiﬁed sites.
communications and logistics — Jin orchestrates networking
“It’s free marketing, but it’s difﬁcult to get business if you’re
opportunities such as receptions and seminars for them to
not in this book,” Jin says, while ﬂipping through to show the
meet with local business and government ofﬁcials.
ofﬁcial red stamps indicating renewal of the certiﬁcate each
He calls on his network of ofﬁcials in Cobb and other metro
counties to meet with Chinese business executives. Owners
“The certiﬁcation helps us get the contracts,” says Jin. “But
of small businesses, in particular, have sought him out to help
it’s the service, the quality of the training and the care with
them develop contacts and ideas to conduct and grow their
personal details to meet participants’ needs that keeps them
business in China.
| Kennesaw State University Magazine - Fall 2008/Winter 2009 | 1
M.P.A.s in China’s future
Dozens of Chinese local and provincial
government ofﬁcials are coming to KSU
to learn about public administration
Learning to play softball in weekly games A t the Coles College of Business, Stella Xu
has created a web of reciprocal learning
opportunities for KSU and Chinese students
coached by a KSU professor was a
welcome perk for Hui Chen and the 19 alike.
other Chinese ofﬁcials spending a year at Just weeks after returning from a carefully
Kennesaw State to earn Master of Public choreographed China study-abroad trip she
Administration degrees. planned for 20 Kennesaw State students,
Xu was back at her desk, juggling e-mails, Stella Xu
But for Chen, who works for the city
of Liuzhou in China’s Guangxi province, telephone calls and students who popped in
completing an M.P.A. in only one year is periodically.
serious business. Even before arriving on As a member of the Coles College of Business faculty and study-abroad program
campus, she completed ﬁve months of director, she was handling the myriad details of coordinating visits to local businesses
intensive English-language training. and tourist sites for 25 Chinese students from the same three universities KSU students
“In order to gain the master’s degree in had recently visited.
such a limited time, I sometimes have to Xu brings her boundless energy and passion for business, education and service
study the whole night,” she says. “Public to students to the task of creating these reciprocal learning opportunities. Her China
administration is not an easy subject for connections and Owl roots help too.
me. I feel a lot of pressure.” A Shanghai native, Xu came to the U.S. in 1999, attended Georgia Perimeter
Chen and her 19 colleagues are the College, then earned her bachelor’s from Kennesaw State in 2005, and an M.B.A. in
fourth group to come from China since 2006.
This summer, Xu took KSU students to China for a study-abroad
2004 to pursue an M.P.A. at Kennesaw trip and hosted 25 Chinese students on campus. After successfully
State. Chinese government contractors hosting 12 students
are investing in these ofﬁcials to meet the from southern China’s
demands of reform in this fast-growing Zhuhai College of Jin
country. China’s need for more highly- Lin University during
trained public administrators has evolved summer 2007, Xu used
as its highly centralized administration has her contacts to plan the
shifted more and more decision-making three-week business study
to provincial and local entities, says abroad for KSU students
Martha Grifﬁth, who retired this fall as in May 2008 that would
M.P.A. program director. take them to Zhuhai, as
The students hold a range of jobs in well as to universities and
China’s local and provincial governments businesses in Shanghai
and educational institutions. The current and in Beijing.
cohort includes propaganda ofﬁcers, a “My purpose is to help
foreign affairs ofﬁcer, a technical college KSU students learn the way of the Chinese people — their thinking and their behaviors
administrator and a museum curator, — because if you study those things, you can develop a relationship and learn to do
among others. KSU has agreements with business with them,” says Xu.
Chinese government contractors, tailoring As evidence of the importance of cultivating relationships, Shanghai University sent
the accelerated program to meet their its ﬁrst students to participate in KSU’s 2008 summer program only after KSU students
needs. spent time there during their spring study-abroad trip.
For Chen, the graduate degree is “Every time our students go to China and interact with students and faculty there
her best shot at promotion. What she is — stay in the dorms with them, eat with them, sit in class with them — we expand the
learning is changing her understanding of relationships,” Xu says.
public administration. Now, she says, many of the 25 Chinese students in this year’s summer program
“They have different ways of teaching hope to return to earn graduate degrees in management, marketing, accounting and
here,” Chen says. “Our professors want ﬁnance at KSU. She credits that to their interactions with staff, faculty and students and
us to think and practice more than we did their exposure to the businesses –– they met with SunTrust Bank executives. They also
in China, which helps us absorb and use visited sites such as the World of Coke and the Martin Luther King Center.
20 | Kennesaw State University Magazine - Fall 2008/Winter 2009 |
“ My purpose is to help KSU students learn the
way of the Chinese people — their thinking
and their behaviors — because if you study
those things, you can develop a relationship
and learn to do business with them.
— Stella Xu
For the KSU business students who enrolled in Xu’s whirlwind study trip last May, the goal
was for them to gauge the enormity of China’s economy and learn about international
In addition to the three universities they visited, they held sessions with executives of
multinational companies in Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai, including General Motors,
Johnson & Johnson, Ofﬁce Depot, Home Depot, SANY, Gree Electric Appliances and IBM
John Blanchard, a junior majoring in accounting, says the trip to China whetted his
appetite to visit other countries and learn as much as possible about other cultures.
Blanchard and his fellow KSU business students also visited leading ﬁnancial institutions
like the Industrial & Commercial Bank of China and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
In between were site-seeing trips to the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square and the
Forbidden City, as well as dining and cultural activities like lessons in calligraphy and
the ancient art of Tai Chi.
“My view of China has expanded into deep admiration,” he said. “The single
most important lesson I learned is that it doesn’t matter where you’re from, people
are the same all over the world. Everyone wants happiness and contentment in
their families and friendships.”
Blanchard embodies the reciprocity Xu strives for in developing study-abroad
Fresh from his spring trip, he volunteered as a project manager to handle
logistics and drove the students in the summer program to their metro Atlanta
For her part, Xu would like to see the exchanges between KSU and China expand. She has used
her knowledge — as a consultant to American companies doing business in China and a member
of Governor Sonny Perdue’s economic
development mission to China earlier this
year — to help American students under-
stand business from a global perspective.
“I think it’s essential that business
students see that while GM may be strug-
gling in the U.S., in China the
company can’t keep up with the demand,
even as they’re working around the clock,
producing a car every 40
minutes,” she says. Conversely, “they may
know Home Depot to be a very success-
ful company in the U.S., but it struggles
against a lot of competition in China. As
the next generation of managers, they will Xu has spent years building and cultivating relationships in China.
function in a global economy.”
Editor’s Note: In August, Stella Xu left her full-time position at KSU to become China project manager in the Georgia
Department of Economic Development. She continues to teach management as an adjunct instructor
at the Coles College of Business.
| Kennesaw State University Magazine - Fall 2008/Winter 2009 | 2
Professors Zhan and Moodie, with their
well, Zhan says. They daughters, taught at Dalian Maritime
drew a great deal of University in China earlier this year.
(Family) Affair to Remember attention as “xiao wai”
(little foreigners) —
The relationships KSU has nurtured in China have for weekend outings
with classmates and
paved the way for an ease of exchange and seam- their families.
less travel to destinations throughout China, even “As sisters in a society
for families who must juggle issues of school and that in 1979 imple-
mented the one-child
quality time while on extended stays.
policy, they were an
Meet two KSU families — one faculty, the other oddity,” she says.
students — who seized the opportunity to teach, Meanwhile, Moodie
and Zhan, who have
conduct research, study, work and travel together
both been a part of KSU’s faculty for nine years, performed a
during faculty exchange and study-abroad trips to wide range of academic duties, intermingling them with family
China culminating in spring 2008. travels through China, which took them to Beijing, Wuhan,
Yichang, Shanghai and its northern neighbor, Nantong.
Moodie helped faculty research and develop papers in
Douglas Moodie, professor of management, and English, for which China’s national higher education system
awards more points. He also taught M.B.A. students a course
Ginny Zhan, associate professor of psychology in quality management, conducted management training for a
Chinese shipping and transport company, and lectured Dalian
China destination: Maritime faculty on “teaming” — getting students to work in
Dalian, Liaoning province, northeast China
teams — a practice widely promoted in the Coles College.
For Zhan, the trip to China presented an opportunity to
T he Coles College of Business has conducted a formal
faculty exchange with Dalian Maritime University for Naval
Preparation for the past 10 years. Each year, KSU professors
advance her research on the social and psychological effects
of China’s one-child policy.
She was also able to lend her expertise in psychologi-
go there to teach, or Dalian Maritime faculty come to KSU.
cal counseling. The need for more counseling has become
China’s spring semester (March to July) 2008 was Doug
evident across China, and the government is beginning to re-
Moodie’s turn to go to Dalian, a harbor city of 6 million that is
spond, Zhan says. At Dalian Maritime, which had just opened
also a major transportation center in China. The Coles College
the university’s ﬁrst counseling center, Zhan consulted with the
was funding his trip to Dalian Maritime so he could continue
director and staff on the organization and layout of the facility
research, teach, conduct trainings, and assist faculty meet
and taught a social psychology class to graduate students.
At Dalian Advanced Technical College, Zhan, who teaches
Moodie’s wife, KSU psychology professor Ginny Zhan,
courses in cross-cultural and developmental psychology, had a
received approval to join him on the trip, sealing the plan to
chance to talk to students and faculty of a gerontological care
make travel to China a family affair with their two daughters,
program on the psychology of aging.
Samantha, 9, and Melodie, 12.
“The Chinese population,” she says “is aging rapidly and
The couple enrolled their daughters in a Dalian Maritime-
more and more often living away from family.”
afﬁliated school where they learned some Chinese and made
friends quickly with peers, many of whom spoke English very
22 | Kennesaw State University Magazine - Fall 2008/Winter 2009 |
A study-abroad trip to China in 2006
Faith Gary, summer 2008 KSU graduate convinced Gary that she wanted to go back at Zhengzhou
with her family. University in
China destination: Henan province
Jiangsu and Zhengzhou in eastern China, and Beijing and further east
T he summer Faith Gary spent on a study-abroad trip in University in
China in 2006 was enough to convince her that she would Jiangsu province,
have to return to really get to know the country. leaving their
“The study abroad just scratched the surface,” says Gary, daughters behind
who saw the trip as an opportunity to “invent herself” as an with the kids’
“international public relations” major since there was no such grandparents.
program of study at KSU. The couple
At 45, Gary is somewhat of a master of invention. returned to
With her oldest son in college, she left her job and joined China with Joy
her husband Emery, a marketing manager, in enrolling as and Grace — to
full-time undergraduates in 2005, when KSU was celebrating Beijing this time — in September 2007, hired a travel guide,
the “Year of China.” then retraced their footsteps to some of the major sites they
Over the next two years, a series of fortunate events unfold- had visited earlier. The family toured Xi’An, Zhenghou and
ed that resulted in her summer study abroad and, ultimately, Yangzhou, giving the girls a chance to see sites such as the
a year of living in China with her daughters — Joy and Grace, Shaolin Temple and the Great Wall before Gary’s husband
then 4 and 13 — and teaching in Beijing. returned to the U.S. Gary stayed for several months teaching
The couple’s interest in China piqued while studying at KSU. English at a Beijing Montessori school.
Gary was so hooked that she changed her required foreign While in China, Gary took KSU classes online and also
language from Spanish to Mandarin. conducted research into the English as a Second Language
Over the next two semesters, she enrolled in a series of (ESL) teaching industry in China. She presented her ﬁndings
classes where she gained insight into China’s history and to faculty and students via videoconference from Beijing to
politics. All along, Gary and her husband continued their complete course requirements.
Chinese language classes. The two set off for the study-abroad The year in China evoked a range of emotions for Gary,
who penned a poem titled “Black and Blue in Beijing” while
Gary brought her daughters and husband last year to China,
where she taught English at a Montessori school and researched
“The pollution in the city was unbearable; you almost
ESL teaching. never saw blue sky, and it bothered me that people seemed
to have no regard for the other’s physical space,” she says.
Still, she managed to appreciate the strong family and
education values she observed among the Chinese, and the
complexities of managing one of the world’s fastest-growing
“It’s not every day you have a chance to be a foreign
immigrant in someone else’s country –– a very enlightening
experience,” says Gary. “Living there helps you see the people
and their realities in a whole different light.” K
| Kennesaw State University Magazine - Fall 2008/Winter 2009 | 2