Po Hu, Lander University's new Dean of International Programs, was born and raised in Sichuan, a province in southwest China famous for its sanctuaries that protect about 30 percent of the world's giant pandas. The province, also well known for its tasty cuisine and beautiful natural scenery, is home to about 100-million people, or one-tenth of China's population.
Early in his academic career, Hu developed a passion for international studies.
After receiving a bachelor's degree in business administration in Beijing, China, he came to the United States and earned a master's degree in human resources and industrial relations, and completed a management development program at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. He is also working to complete a doctoral degree.
Prior to joining Lander, he worked as director of the Sino-American Dual Degree Program and China Initiative Coordinator at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. His responsibilities there included recruiting international students, developing international partnerships, and directing international academic and study abroad programs.
Hu succeeds Dr. Sung-Jae Park, who retired in July as dean of International Programs and now serves as a senior adviser to Lander President Daniel Ball.
Park joined Lander in 2010 and, during his three years as dean, he arranged sister university agreements with 11 schools in South Korea, China and Thailand. He made it possible for Lander students to study and work in Asia, and for Asian students to study at Lander for a semester or longer. He also created the American Language and Cultural Studies Program, which brings groups of Asian students and faculty to Lander for month long learning experiences.
Hu's vision is to build on what he described as the solid foundation Park established for international programs at Lander. He said he wants to establish international programs at Lander as a national model, comparable to other public four- year institutions of similar size and location.
Among his goals over the next five years are significant increases in the number of international students enrolled at Lander and the number of Lander students participating in the Study Abroad programs. He also wants to build an awareness of the influence and contribution of globalization on campus and in the community.
His strategic plan envisions developing international agreements and partnerships with international education institutions, governments and businesses. He said, "The U.S. is viewed as the most advanced nation in academics, technology, business, international development, economics and foreign affairs." Families and educational institutions abroad are eager to have their students study in the U.S. to give them a stronger competitive advantage when they enter the job market either at home or in the global market, he added.
Hu is happy to be at Lander. He said, "It is a great university. The people think about your needs and treat you as family." Hu has a family of his own. His wife, Lei Fan, is a Chinese language teacher at Ball State University, and they have a six-year-old son, Wesley. He said his wife and son will move to Greenwood next summer.