A global village at TSU
The outside of Pace Hall at Troy State looked like a miniature South Alabama version of the United Nations early Wednesday afternoon.
With flags from 10 nations flapping in the wind, dignitaries from around the state - and around the world - watched the hoisting of standards to decorate new flag poles installed between Pace Hall and Riddle-Pace baseball field.
"These flags symbolize friendship between so many nations and symbolize our commitment to serving international students," said Chancellor Jack Hawkins of the colorful new addition to the campus.
The flags represent the nations with the 10 highest enrollments at TSU's Troy campus and are posted alphabetically from Australia to Turkey. In between fly the flags of China, India, Japan, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and South Korea.
China is home to the largest international delegation of TSU students and the audience of the ceremony was populated by delegates from a visiting group of Chinese scholars and business officials.
"A decade ago, there were 13 countries represented at Troy State and now there are 61," Hawkins said. "We have a growing number of students and a commitment to serving the world."
William Ingram, a Senior Project Manager with the Alabama Development Office, brought greetings from Gov. Bob Riley and called Troy State University "a global access point."
Ingram saluted the visitors from China and spoke favorably about the Chinese economy and the vast opportunities for trade and investment.
State Senator Jimmy Holley, who represents Coffee, Covington, Dale and Houston counties in the Legislature, was also on hand for the festivities.
The afternoon had a corporate flair amid all of the ringing endorsements of international goodwill.
"Our goal is for Alabama to be a place where multi-national companies want to do business," Hawkins said.
Earlier in the day, the Chinese delegation was introduced to a large gathering of TSU Chinese students at Hawkins-Adams-Long Hall of Honor.
Dr. Curtis Porter, dean of international programs at TSU, said it has become increasing more difficult to get visas for international students, but the university will make a concentrated effort to continue to bring these students to the Troy campus.
Having a large international student population is beneficial for both the international and American students, he said.
"We are working with the government to address the visa process," Porter said. "This is a critical issue."
told the students and the Chinese delegation that the university's goal is to serve one student at a time.
"We also want to build international relationship one person at a time," he said. "We are committed to being a Global Village and to bringing outstanding students from around the world to Troy State University."
Hawkins said the university is committed to academic excellence, to providing a healthy and safe environment and to the concept of Global Village.
"There are 550,000 international students in the United States and 63,000 come from China," he said. " China has the largest delegation of any country."
There are 900 Chinese students in Alabama and 125 of those are at TSU.
"Percentage wise, Troy State University is the largest home for Chinese students in Alabama," Hawkins said. "The world is changing and we want to tell you how happy we are that you are here."
Hawkins closed with a Chinese proverb says that cloth is not woven from a single thread.
"The fabric of our society requires many threads," he said, addressing the Chinese students. "We are but one thread but we are your home away from home."