Gannon to explore campus in India

The most famous Hollywood copy is found in India, and now Gannon University hopes to duplicate in the land of Bollywood.

Melanie Hatch, Ph.D., dean of the College of Engineering and Business, who has been instrumental in this process – because she heads a department with majors likely to be considered for the campus – said the board of trustees approved a team to conduct a feasibility study about a possible Indian branch of Gannon. For the next several months – until the board meeting in May – this team will survey high school and college students, parents and faculty in India, and American and international students who currently attend Gannon.

Hatch said she believes the branch is being looked into partly because Gannon – under the direction of President Keith Taylor, Ph.D., – is looking to be more globalized.

Globalizing means connecting students with beliefs, customs and practices of people in nations around the world, according to Hatch. Some of the means being used to implement globalization are increasing the diversity of students and faculty at Gannon, adding more international components to the curriculum and increasing opportunities for study abroad.

The purpose of the research team is to find out if people would even be interested in going to the proposed school, how far they would be willing to travel to go, what kind of programs they’d like to see there and what they’d want their experience attending the branch campus to be like.

“We want to get the thoughts of our students, especially our students who are already here,” she said.

Hatch said the process is still in its early planning stages, so she isn’t sure how the project will take shape.

But it’s definite that the research will be devoted to building the school in India.

She said India is being looked at because it’s a democracy, making it politically and economically viable for a U.S. institution.

India also has a growing population, which means it has a growing need for higher education, she said.  Gannon also has a vested interest, because most of the university’s international students are from India.

Eight Indian cities are being looked at for the branch.

These cities were selected because they are politically and economically viable, and Gannon is familiar with companies doing business in these locations.

The proposed school might be used for both Indian and American students.

Hatch said it might start out with just graduate programs, and phase in other programs if that launch is successful.

Engineering and business have also been discussed as flagship programs, because these are popular degrees in India, as it grows its economy and infrastructure.

Health professions are another need in India, and some programs used in the Morosky College of Health Professions might be implemented there.

“If we get a positive response, it might end up being a full campus with quite a number of programs that we offer here being offered there as well,” she said.

If the project is successful – and a full campus is built – American students might have the chance to study abroad at the campus or complete a summer internship there.

Many questions remain up in the air, but Hatch said she thinks the study will address these, although it might create some more.

The board isn’t expected to give a “yes” or “no” answer in May, but will take the information presented, study it and come back to the September board meeting with suggestions for the team.

Hatch suggests that students stay informed and get their opinions heard by participating in the studies conducted by the team.

“When we put out a call, we hope students will sign up and let us know what they think about it and how they might want to see this happen,” she said.

“Please come talk to us when we ask.”

Hatch presented the Student Government Association with a loose idea of the project at a meeting.

Landis Erwin, the SGA president, and a senior journalism communications major, said she likes the idea of the campus.

“It will expand Gannon’s international relations in the world,” she said.

She hopes SGA will be involved in the process of polling so the committee can get more feedback from the student body.

Sam DeCapua, a senior political science major, said while he thinks India is a good location, he is worried about how the university will pay for the school.

“I guarantee tuition will go up,” he said.

Since the project is still in a very early stage, the question of how it will be financed has not yet been addressed.

TESSY PAWLOWSKI

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