What a memorable day! Our largest cohort ever of students graduating with their bachelor’s degrees in Hospitality and Tourism Management at our Tianjin, China, site. Two hundred-thirty hard-working students paraded across a cramped stage in a beautiful art deco auditorium on the campus of our educational partner, the Tianjin Commerce University. A first for me at a graduation: All were smiling proudly as we took the congratulatory picture. Indeed, numerous candidates whispered, “See you in Miami,” code for the fact that they would soon be continuing their master’s degree education at the newly named Chaplin School on our beautiful Biscayne Bay Campus.
We were pleased that the graduation delegation included Tianjin University of Commerce President Dr. Liu Shuhan; Mr. Wang Shuzu, the dynamic program founder and former vice mayor of the Tianjin Municipal Government; along with Xu Xongj, who is the deputy director of the Department of International Cooperation and Exchanges of the Chinese Ministry of Education. It was Mr. Xu’s first encounter with FIU!
Following the ceremony, all graduates, their family members, FIU faculty, and members of the FIU delegation, including Senior Vice President Howard Lipman, Dean of the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management Mike Hampton, Dean of Libraries Laura Probst, and Alumni Association Executive Director Bill Draughon, and Assistant Provost for China Programs Peng Lu lined up for the class graduation photo under cloudy skies and a gathering mist. In contrast to the overcast weather,
the deep-voiced photo master (see picture) joyfully thundered at us in classic command and control style. He was right out of central casting, and I am sure he had earlier been a drill instructor for a military unit somewhere! He evidently understood his own caricature and exploited it to get the amused attention he needed from the happy graduates, dutifully snapping pictures with a large camera on a tripod and entertaining our new graduates in the process.
Of course, the graduation would not have been complete without an elegant TUC- hosted lunch post-event at an immaculate and well-appointed Jixian Baiyue Restaurant near the university. There we shared hopes and aspirations for FIU-TUC cooperation, and the voluble vice mayor sang the praises of former Governor Jeb Bush, whom he hopes to see during a trip to Miami in August. We pointed out the ironic coincidence of the vice mayor’s visit during the height of hurricane season, but Mr. Wang deflected. He made sure that we understood the importance of finding some good Cuban cigars and a successful round of golf at the Biltmore Country Club for him during the visit. Should the estimable founder of the TUC-FIU cooperation indeed visit, his expectations will be exceeded!
I want to congratulate our faculty in Tianjin. We are now beginning to make our mark on the booming hospitality industry in China. No doubt, our growing cadre of Chinese graduates will soon ascend to leadership positions throughout the public and private sectors in China, entirely consistent with the hoped-for impact of FIU by its founding fathers. This will be something special to observe, and we will track it all the way. Our Worlds Ahead education initiative means that the Sun Never Sets on FIU. Our graduates here will ensure that China is not an exception!
This brief video below shows the newly minted graduates celebrating amidst the gathering mist: