Benedictine University: Global growth, value earned by engaging cultural differences

Global College will coordinate, develop programs, services abroad
August 14, 2013

Elliott Peppers
(630) 829-6094

Kindlon Hall of Learning 1webLisle, Illinois ~ Companies, institutions and cities want to be global because it builds net worth and brand value internationally. However, globalism also means being able to service a need at home as well as abroad. Service should be the greater focus, which is why Benedictine University has grown nationally and internationally.

Responding to the desire to serve a need and not just a desire to be bigger, Benedictine University developed partnerships with universities in China more than a decade ago. University officials determined that the school’s values-centered liberal arts education would be in high demand in China – a world export powerhouse and consumable goods juggernaut.

“Our international efforts in Asia have grown by developing ‘deep partnerships’ with major universities in China for jointly delivering graduate programs in business and more recently public health,” said Donald B. Taylor, Ph.D., Benedictine’s provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.

The University is constantly changing and adapting to meet the demand for quality, values-based academic programs at home and abroad. As a result, Benedictine is adding a sixth college to serve its growing overseas community.

Benedictine University’s Global College will coordinate and develop its many programs and services abroad, including administration of master’s programs in China and Vietnam and partnerships with colleges and universities throughout the world.

Benedictine recently received permission from the Ministry of Education (MOE) in China to begin offering its Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) program. The University has offered a Master of Business Administration and Master of Science in Management Information Systems in China since 2004 and in Vietnam since 2009.

Nearly 20 Benedictine faculty recently trained, taught and studied with counterparts in China to assimilate the best of both cultures in their teaching methodologies. Prior to the trip, the group met biweekly during the spring semester as part of a China Studies Faculty Seminar that involved scholarly readings, discussions and presentations by faculty on topics related to China.

“During the China excursion, Benedictine faculty gave presentations, visited classes, engaged in dialogue with Chinese faculty in similar and related disciplines, and developed professional relationships for possible future collaboration,” said Wilson Chen, Ph.D., an associate professor of Language and Literature at Benedictine and a seminar participant.

The visiting Benedictine faculty also created a digital blog (http://benufacultyblog.wordpress.com/) to document and create dialogue about the experience as well as interact locally and internationally with others.

Benedictine continues to expand its academic programs abroad and has branch campuses in Springfield, Ill., and Mesa, Ariz. – the first four-year Catholic university campus in Arizona.

Now Benedictine offers a Chinese (Mandarin) minor with a Chinese Culture track option. The Chinese Language minor will foster students’ awareness of the increasingly global and multi-linguistic nature of society, allow them to connect specific issues in Chinese culture and history to current trends in Chinese society, and prepare them to communicate effectively in the context of another culture.

The University believes that students are better prepared for the global marketplace if they are able to blend their degrees with an in-demand language or a study abroad experience.

“Our students are wonderfully prepared in the sciences, education and the arts, but now they will have a very distinct advantage when they enter the workforce,” said Benedictine University President William J. Carroll, Ph.D. “They will have the added benefit of assimilating the University’s relationship with China into their own unique expertise.”

“Imagine two recent business graduates applying for a job,” Carroll said. “Both have the traditional preparation that studies in business provide. Both have similar grades and work experience. However, the Benedictine graduate has something extra: a significant exposure to China. As the world gets smaller and China continues to emerge as a major international player, Benedictine students' China experience will give them an added advantage in the search for jobs.”

The minor will also allow students to explore more study abroad opportunities in China. The University has formed 14 partnerships with Chinese universities. Benedictine offers master's degrees in China and has approximately 1,000 alumni from these programs. In addition, a growing number of Chinese students are attending Benedictine and a reciprocal number of Benedictine students are traveling to China. Many of these U.S. students have received Chinese government scholarships to study in the country.

As student populations grow, so do college campuses. Higher education institutions need to weigh any expansions – domestic or abroad – under the same principles where expansion is a response to fulfilling a need and not simply the pursuit of public acclaim.


Benedictine University is an independent Roman Catholic institution located in Lisle, Illinois just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has branch campuses in Springfield, Illinois and Mesa, Arizona. Founded in 1887, Benedictine provides 55 undergraduate majors and 17 graduate and four doctoral programs. Benedictine University is ranked No. 1 among the country’s fastest-growing campuses between 2000-2010 in The Chronicle of Higher Education’s list of private nonprofit research institutions, and Forbes magazine named Benedictine among “America’s Top Colleges” for the third consecutive year in 2013. Benedictine University’s Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) program is listed by Crain’s Chicago Business as the fifth largest in the Chicago area in 2012.