Recently I visited Vietnam, with side trips to Malaysia and Indonesia, to identify recruitment and training opportunities for PSU. We’ve been quite involved in Vietnam for some time, primarily through the training program for engineers that Intel sponsored for several years, and work by the Center for Public Service to train public officials. (I have to admit that I still marvel at the historical irony of a U.S. university training Vietnamese communist party officials in governance, citizen participation, and budgeting!)
Vietnam is an amazingly impressive country, with a great entrepreneurial spirit and rapidly growing infrastructure and employment base. However, 80 percent of the population is still employed in agriculture and the challenges the country will face as it industrializes are huge. A key area of need is higher education, and PSU already is working with Vietnamese universities to enhance their capacity. Additionally, about 90 Vietnamese students are studying here in Portland.
My visit was part of the celebration of the 20th anniversary of normalized U.S.-Vietnam relations — a series of events that our Center for Public Service in the Hatfield School is helping organize, at the request of the U.S. State Department. We held a conference on emergency preparedness in Hoi An, in Quang Nam province in the center of the country, and we co-sponsored a conference on higher education in Hanoi. We also visited about half a dozen universities and signed several memoranda of understanding, intended to increase faculty exchange and create programs that will bring more Vietnamese students to PSU.
Malaysia and Indonesia both present great opportunities for student recruitment, but our relations there are at an earlier stage. We have a great ally, though, in Melanie Billings-Yon, wife of the U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia. Melanie is a PSU alum and adjunct professor in the School of Business Administration!
These three countries present enormous opportunities for PSU to internationalize our education and research. Their students will expose ours to different cultures and fascinating development challenges, while joint faculty work can contribute to ‘letting knowledge serve the world’. We will continue to strengthen these relationships.
Photo: Wim and Alice Wiewel touring Southeast Asia