UMSL Chancellor Tom George announces the university's plans to help build a new university in China. The announcement was made at the annual State of the University Address on Sept. 21.

China’s booming economy and need for educated workers prompted education officials in Chengdu, Sichuan Province to seek out the advice of University of Missouri–St. Louis officials to help build a new university.

“We’re being asked to create a new campus in the heart of China,” Chancellor Tom George told his audience at the annual State of the University Address Sept. 21. “The new middle and upper middle class parents in China have a strong commitment to education and it translates into a strong desire to secure a U.S. education for their children.”

The proposal calls for UMSL to partner with Missouri University of Science and Technology to design degree programs in eight target areas that meet UM system degree requirements. The proposed academic degree programs offered at the new Sichuan Missouri University will be in business, nursing, graphic design, social work and gerontology, mining engineering, metallurgical engineering, ceramic engineering and engineering management, George said.

“This partnership will increase UM’s visibility, enhance our reputation as a leader in international education and increase our ability to recruit top students in the largest education market in the world,” he said.

The university has signed an agreement with leaders of Tianfu College in China to create the new university.

UMSL Chancellor Tom George (left) and Guoquan Pu, president of Tianfu College in China, sign an agreement to work together to establish Sichuan Missouri University in China.

George said the Curators of the University of Missouri System met recently in Kansas City and approved plans to move forward. Delegations from the UM and Chinese universities have visited each other’s campuses. In China, approval has been positive and swift.

“The Ministry of Education of China is the last one, and we are optimistic about getting the necessary approval,” he added. Officials estimate final license approval by the end of the year.

The Chinese partners will cover the full cost of establishing SMU including all construction and equipment purchases. George said approximately $100 million has already been spent to date on construction of SMU.

“The UM investment will be limited to intellectual capital,” said George. One UM faculty member will be hired in each of the eight initial academic programs to work on program and curriculum development. The full cost of salaries and benefits, plus transportation and local housing for visiting faculty will be covered by SMU.

George noted that UMSL and Missouri S&T will receive 10 percent of tuition fees per student per year.

Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province, has more than 14 million residents.

The announcement received news coverage on KSDK (Channel 5), St. Louis Public Radio | 90.7 FM and in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Maureen Zegel

Maureen Zegel