Delegates from Kanagawa University, located in Lawrence's soon-to-be sister city in Japan, met today with Kansas University officials to discuss forming academic exchange programs.
Four officials of the Japanese university in Hiratsuka were formally welcomed Tuesday night by Mayor Shirley Martin-Smith at the city commission meeting.
Masaru Ishizumi, head of international programs at Kanagawa University and leader of the delegation, said he was optimistic about linking the universities.
"We have been trying to identify what sort of specific arrangement can be made between the two universities," he said.
The Kanagawa University delegation also includes Keiichi Tsuneishi, head of student affairs; Norishito Tanaka, associate professor of business; and Kaoru Kato, associate professor of art.
KATO ARRIVED in Lawrence last week with 15 teen-agers from Hiratsuka. The Japanese high school students came here for a three-day cultural exchange.
George Woodyard, dean of international programs at KU, said university officials are "very interested" in establishing exchanges.
"This is exploratory meeting," Woodyard said. "We're trying to talk through a lot of details."
"What we're pointing toward with Kanagawa is a program that would include students in business, language and culture," he said.
Ishizumi said the university delegation expected to find a couple of areas ripe for international exchange but reality exceeded his expectation.
Through meetings with dozens of KU faculty and administrators over the past three days, "we have discovered some new areas that we could explore," he said.
The most promising areas are East Asian studies and business administration.
"We have been having extensive discussions with the business school here and naturally the Asian studies department," he said.
ISHIZUMI said Kanagawa University has a strong international business administration program and there is growing interest among U.S. students in that field.
Depending on the reaction at Kanagawa University, the exchange program could get off the ground next summer.
"Following that we will try to have longer exchange programs that is five or six months," he said.
Woodyard said it may be possible to put together a program by next summer.
Ishizumi said the exchange would likely begin with students and then expand to include faculty.
KU has academic exchanges with two Japanese universities Sophia University and Fukuoka University. They are small programs involving two or three students.
"They are not of the magnitude we're thinking of," Ishizumi added.
Initially, the exchange would involve 20 to 30 Japanese and U.S. students. The goal would be to have 50 Japanese and Americans trade places.