UTA Magazine
Educating the world
EMBA program is largest of any foreign university in China

With its storied history, striking geography, rich culture and sprawling cities, China is a remarkable place. And one other thing especially attracts President James D. Spaniolo: UT Arlington’s established presence there.

Spaniolo and Dan Himarios, dean of the College of Business Administration, visited China in October to meet with colleagues and students in the University’s Executive M.B.A.-Asia program. They spent five days each in Shanghai and Beijing, seeing firsthand the effect on the brightest young Chinese professionals.

President James D. Spaniolo
President James D. Spaniolo awards a diploma to a graduate of UT Arlington's Executive M.B.A.-Asia program during commencement ceremonies at the University of Science and Technology-Beijing in October.

Begun in 2002 (see fall 2002 issue), the EMBA program has become the largest of any foreign university in China. “UTA has a good name in China,” Dr. Himarios said. “We’re one of the top-ranked programs in China. We’re well-established, highly regarded and well-respected.”

Spaniolo saw all of this on what was his first trip to China.

“I came away impressed and with a better understanding of the impact we’re having,” he said. “It was extraordinary.”

UT Arlington offers degrees to students in Beijing, Shenzhen, Shanghai, Suzhou, Xian and Taiwan. Almost 400 students have graduated, with another 497 enrolled.

Himarios, who established the EMBA-Asia and has visited China several times, has signed accords with leading Chinese universities such as Tongji in Shanghai and the University of Science and Technology-Beijing. The Chinese Communist Party requires all foreign institutions to work in collaboration with Chinese universities. The universities provide facilities and help recruit students, while American faculty run the program.

In UT Arlington’s case, students enroll in cohorts of 50-80 and take 18 months to complete the program. But these aren’t your typical college students.

Average age is 35, they’re bilingual, and they have worked as professionals for at least five years. Each is already at least a mid-level executive. Earning an EMBA—with their company typically covering tuition and other expenses—will promote the graduates even higher, based on new skill sets and highly valued education.

“They’re fast-track people,” Spaniolo said. “They’re very impressive students, future leaders of China. … This program is of great value to the University and those students who are receiving EMBAs.”

Twelve courses are offered, nine of them taught by UT Arlington faculty members. All courses are taught in English and focus on international business. Though housed in the classrooms of Chinese universities, the students earn diplomas from UT Arlington and are UT Arlington alumni. In fact, recent graduates are organizing a Chinese chapter of the Alumni Association.

As China, a closed-off nation until 1972, has grown into a world economic power, the need for global-minded business leaders has skyrocketed.

“The demand for the Executive M.B.A. degree is increasing because China is growing so rapidly,” Himarios said. “It’s a great thing for China because they are trying to integrate themselves in the world economy. It is also a good thing for us.”

While several American universities have begun similar programs, many have folded and none has grown as fast as UT Arlington’s.

“Our program is four years old, while others have floundered,” Spaniolo said. “Part of it is having an understanding of what will be successful in China. You’ve got to have strong partnerships, which we certainly do. But the credit goes to Dean Himarios and the College of Business Administration faculty who sustain the program. Dean Himarios is the one who makes this work.”

Spaniolo said he hopes to return to China someday to see the “continual evolution” of the program.

Odds are, it will still be impressive.

— Danny Woodward

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