Northern Arizona University President John Haeger conferred degrees for students on two continents this summer in ceremonies held in Flagstaff and Beijing.

Fifteen students earned bachelor’s degrees through the Sino-American 1+2+1 Dual Degree Program last month during a joint commencement.

“NAU values our partnerships with other institutions, whether we are providing opportunities for education to citizens of our state, our nation or the world,” Haeger said. “We are proud to be an integral part of this important initiative to foster an international community of learning and the celebration of students’ successes.”

The graduation ceremony was the first ever held in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, which houses standing offices of the National People’s Congress and other political activities of diplomatic leaders.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Sino-American program established by American Association of State Colleges and Universities, the Chinese Education Association for International Exchange and the China Center for International Educational Exchange.During the visit, Haeger also participated in discussions with other university presidents regarding the future of dual degree programs.
The Sino-American program was established to meet the growing interest of Chinese students wishing to study abroad who were faced with the challenge of attaining student visas. NAU joined the effort in 2004 as the fourth American university partner.

The Sino-American program has grown to 80 Chinese universities and 20 American universities.

With students attending their home university the first and fourth years and NAU for the middle two years, between 100 and 200 Sino-American students are enrolled at the Flagstaff campus each academic year.

Daniel Palm, program director for China initiatives in NAU’s Center for International Education, credits the success of the program to the support of the president and focused efforts of staff members.

“President Haeger and Provost Grobsmith have sponsored this initiative to provide opportunities for students, whether they are in Arizona or China,” Palm said. “Our dedicated work and strong relationships with our partners has led to NAU having the largest population of Sino-American program students in the U.S.”