Bryant University’s latest agreements with the People’s Republic of China are only the most recent in a series that began nearly a decade ago with the establishment of the U.S.-China Institute on the Bryant campus. The subsequent creation of the Confucius Institute cemented the connection, one that already has yielded great benefit to the university and its students.
Last week’s twin signing ceremonies are significant because they have the potential to generate greater ties not just between Bryant and China – which will be established by, No. 1, a program at the school’s Smithfield home through which Chinese students can earn master’s degrees in environmental management, and No. 2, the creation of a Bryant campus in China – but between Rhode Island’s small-business community and the world’s most-populous nation.
Bryant President Ronald K. Machtley said that the new joint projects have the potential to be a “catalyst to help jump-start the Rhode Island economy.”
At first blush, that may seem a little over-optimistic. But as Bryant’s John H. Chafee Center for International Business has shown, connections that start with education and research lead to business. There is no reason to assume that Bryant’s deepening China connections won’t lead to opportunities for small enterprises in the Ocean State that previously would not have found them.
Bryant and Machtley should be congratulated for actively seeking to engage China, not just for the benefit to the school’s students, but for the benefit to us all. •