Wenzhou-Kean University Graduates Inaugural Class

Graduates of Kean University’s Campus in China Will Attend Top Graduate Schools in the World

Parents and families of the inaugural graduating class at Wenzhou-Kean University in Wenzhou, China fill the Wenzhou Grand Theatre to watch students receive diplomas in an American-style commencement ceremony.

Parents and families of the inaugural graduating class at Wenzhou-Kean University in Wenzhou, China fill the Wenzhou Grand Theatre to watch students receive diplomas in an American-style commencement ceremony.

Union, N.J. – Wenzhou-Kean University, a unique educational partnership between Kean University in Union and Wenzhou University in Wenzhou, China, held its inaugural graduation on Saturday, May 28, conferring Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees upon 186 Chinese students and one American student – Akeem Miller, a political science major from Newark – at the Wenzhou Grand Theater before a full house of parents and families.

The commencement ceremony represents a milestone in the history of Wenzhou-Kean University, a 500-acre campus located in the foothills of Wenzhou in Zhejiang Province. Wenzhou-Kean University offers Chinese students an English-speaking, Western-style higher education. It also offers students at Kean University the opportunity to study abroad in China and gain a global perspective and education. Kean University is the only public university in the U.S. to have a campus in China.

“We reached this milestone today because we had a vision; we celebrate our success because you, our students, had faith in WKU and were willing to make an investment in a new idea,” Kean University President Dr. Dawood Farahi told the graduates. “You leave here with more than knowledge. You leave here today with understanding and experience that will position you to lead the international community, the international marketplace, and the international dialogue for years to come.”

Seventy percent of the graduating class will begin graduate studies this fall, with more than 30 students attending graduate school at Kean University to study business, finance, computer science and education. About a third of the graduates continuing their studies will attend some of the most prestigious universities in the world, including Columbia University, University of Chicago, Johns Hopkins University, Northwestern University, Brandeis University, Cornell University, University College London, University of Toronto, Chinese University of Hong Kong, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and Peking University School of Transnational Law. Other graduates are employed at top-ranking Chinese finance and accounting institutions such as Bank of Ningbo, Bank of Ruifeng and Shanghai Municipal Finance Bureau.

“You are lucky, for Wenzhou-Kean University boasts top educational resources, teaching conditions and living conditions in China,” Dr. Li Xiaokun, president of Wenzhou University, said. “You have had the opportunity to draw the best nutrition from the three universities – Wenzhou University, Wenzhou-Kean University and Kean University – and to thrive with our world-class educational strength. By strongly lifting Wenzhou’s influence and competence, Wenzhou- Kean University is a think tank and talent bank of Wenzhou’s industrial transformation and Wenzhou’s strategy of becoming a center city in the southeast coast of China.”

Hanscom Smith, the consul general of the Consulate General of the United States of America in Shanghai, spoke about the diplomatic significance of WKU and its inaugural commencement. “I want to express my sincere congratulations to the first graduating class from Wenzhou-Kean University,” he said. “The relationship between the U.S. and China is the most consequential in the world, and the bonds that you have formed during your time here will make our partnership stronger. I hope you will use this experience as inspiration to push for deeper cross-cultural understanding in all of your future endeavors.”

Keynote speaker Professor Qu Jia, an internationally renowned ophthalmologist and former president of Wenzhou Medical University, noted that while students at WKU are learning advanced Western science and culture, they are also being enriched by traditional Chinese culture. “I have witnessed at WKU an internationalized university that is innovative, tolerant, and diverse in development,” he said. “As cultural ambassadors, you will become innovative and creative talent with profound cultural knowledge, global vision and pioneering spirits.”

Valedictorian Jin Ningtong spoke of the importance of academic freedom. “At WKU, we are taught to challenge the norms and rules, criticize the commonplace and bring up our own ideas,” she said. “I want to thank the leadership that allows the existence of different voices without suppressing dissent or complaints. Critical thinking grants us more freedom and a chance to improve the university.”

Dr. Farahi extended greetings to the graduates from People’s Republic of China President Xi Jinping, who was instrumental in the founding of WKU. It was during a visit in 2006 to Union, New Jersey, Wenzhou’s “sister city,” that President Xi spoke to Dr. Farahi of the importance of providing world-class higher education to the people of Zhejiang. Dr. Farahi suggested the creation of a new university that would allow Chinese students to pursue Western-style education without the expense and challenges of leaving China, instead of sending students from Wenzhou to Kean as had been done previously.

Currently more than 1,500 undergraduate students attend Wenzhou-Kean University; enrollment is projected to be 3,500 by 2020. The English-speaking campus currently offers academic programs in the natural and physical sciences, computer science, business, English and graphic design. A new home of the Global Business School is under construction. The Michael Graves College, a new student learning and activities center, and other academic buildings are slated to complete the campus master plan in the coming years.