Dean Pregitzer Builds U-Idaho Brand In China
By Sue McMurray
The prestigious Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) recently hosted a visit by College of Natural Resources Dean Kurt Pregitzer and his wife Maria, director of Student Services in the College of Engineering. The two-week stay – funded by CAS -- included campus visits and tours of four Chinese cities.
Pregitzer has a long collaborative relationship with CAS; by accepting the invitation in his role as CNR dean, he increased U-Idaho’s presence at CAS institutes in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Wuhan. At each institute or university, Pregitzer gave a lecture, met with faculty and graduate students, and toured off campus research stations. In Wuhan, CAS presented Pregitzer with a Visiting Professor for Senior International Scientists Award.
“Dr. Pregitzer’s invitation to China by the Chinese Academy of Sciences reflects the high caliber of scientists we have at the University of Idaho that make us globally competitive,” said President Duane Nellis. “As an ISI Highly Cited Scientist in ecology and environment, Kurt is one of the mostly highly ranked scientists in the world.”
“We were very honored to accept the invitation to travel to China,” says Pregitzer. “It is important for Idaho to recognize that China’s scientific enterprise is growing and find ways to engage with its premier scientists and recruit students. This was the perfect opportunity.”
The Pregitzers are involved in student affairs and were able to visit U-Idaho recruiting offices in Beijing and Shanghai.
“The concept of recruiting students to U-Idaho from China is fundamentally sound,” said Pregitzer. “Recognizing that China has 21 percent of earth’s population and rapidly increasing disposable income, the market for Chinese students is numerically and socially strong.”
To establish an Idaho presence throughout China and to attract Chinese students to the state, Pregitzer suggests targeted marketing to engineering, business, English education, agriculture, and environmental science students.
Job placement is another real concern in China, says Pregitzer. He believes U-Idaho could stand out in business and engineering fields if early cohorts from China are trained in Idaho and return back to their homeland.
“Money is not necessarily an issue to prospective Chinese students in many circumstances, but brand recognition, quality and employment opportunities are very important in China,” he says.
The bottom line, Pregitzer says, is that to be successful in China, U-Idaho must first understand what cultural factors influence Chinese students’ decisions about higher education.