ASU partners with Sichuan University, Chinese language summer program

October 25, 2012

In partnership with the School of Overseas Study at Sichuan University in China and the ASU Confucius Institute, ASU's School of International Letters and Cultures is offering an intensive eight-week Chinese Language program this summer at Sichuan University in Chengdu, China.

The School of International Letters and Cultures’ study abroad programs are among the longest running and most prestigious at Arizona State University. Founded in 1981, and directed by knowledgeable, world-class faculty, the programs offer students the opportunity to experience and study international humanities and learn languages firsthand while earning credit toward their degree. Students in China study abroad program Download Full Image

The Sichuan University Summer Chinese Language program is particularly unique in that students, supervised by School of International Letters and Cultures faculty of Chinese, complete one full academic year of Chinese language coursework in just eight weeks.

Students have the option to take 10 credits of second-, third-, or fourth-year Chinese, or to take only one language course and a same-level topics course for six credits. This track of study allows students to continue seamlessly back to fall term Chinese courses at ASU.

“The classroom experience is amazing, and your Chinese skills will progress quickly, but the learning experience does not stop in the classroom,” says former participant Danielle Van Vleet. “In fact, you will find yourself practicing Chinese all day, and it's pretty amazing.”

In addition to regularly scheduled class hours, students in the program meet with individual language tutors for additional practice and integration into Chengdu life.

Students are housed two to a room in the newest foreign student dormitory on Sichuan University's main campus, which features laundry service, cooking areas, and in suite modern bathrooms with showers. The living arrangements provide “an opportunity to meet and establish connections with Chinese students abroad and American students with similar majors,” says former participant Julia Noellert. “Your Chinese language ability will substantially increase with personal tutors, a full class schedule, and excursions into the city and to tourist destinations,” she adds.

Chengdu and Sichuan Province have a long, rich history, from the relics of the Sanxingdui culture to the tall green mountains dotted with ancient Daoist and Buddhist temples. Chengdu is an ancient, fascinating city located between the heartland of Chinese civilization and the Tibetan plateau. It is also a place of scenic wonder, including the famous Jiuzhaigou, a place that has been called “The Yosemite of China” for its natural beauty. Plus, spicy food lovers will delight in Sichuan’s famous tasty cuisine, the earliest “regional” cuisine to be recorded in China.

“Chengdu is the best of both worlds,” says former participant Christopher Palfi. “On one hand you get a world class city, and on the other you get a city that still feels inherently Chinese.” 

The Sichuan University Summer Chinese Language program offers great opportunities to immerse oneself in the rich Sichuan culture through weekend excursions, cultural lectures and visits to local historical sites such as Sanxingdui Museum, the site of an ancient Chinese, Bronze Age city where, in 1987, archaeologist excavated remarkable artifacts dating from the 12th and 11th centuries BCE, and the Beichuan Earthquake Museum where the devastation of the Sichuan earthquake of 2008 is exhibited. 

Students also visit Mount Qingcheng, where they learn more about Buddhism in China, the famous Dujiangyan Irrigation System, the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Base, Mount Emei, and the Giant Buddha at Leshan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the tallest pre-modern statue in the world.

“The field trips were a great way to experience China outside the big city. By going to places like Beichuan and Qingcheng shan, we got to see how life and scenery was for the rest of Sichuan. Not to mention, these places are inherently tied to Chinese history and culture,” says Palfi.

“One simply cannot go to China and not see some of the amazing sights it has to offer. The field trips were just as important as the class time,” says Van Vleet, “The trips gave me the opportunity to connect with Chinese culture and explore with classmates on the weekend.”  

For students interested in exploring even more of China, the program offers time to do so with an intersession break during which some students choose to travel to other parts of the country including other major cities like Beijing and Shanghai.

About the experience overall, former participant Jonny Dangerfield says, “Participating in ASU's Sichuan program was, and continues to be a life-changing experience for me. Because the program is located in the heart of Sichuan University's campus, I was able to interact with scores of Chinese students my age, use my language skills to learn about their life and culture, and ultimately forge friendships that would provide invaluable motivation to continue my Chinese studies when I returned home.”

ASU students interested in the program, but worried about funding, may apply for summer fellowships from the ASU Confucius Institute. These fellowships, awarded on a mix of need and merit, range from $500 to $1,000 for students who qualify.

For more information about the program, contact Katie Curiel at

Applications accepted through the ASU Study Abroad Office. 

The School of International Letters and Cultures and ASU's Confucius Institute are academic and research units in the  College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Sun Devil Athletics reaches 80 percent graduation success rate

October 25, 2012

Statistics for the Graduation Success Rate (GSR) released Oct. 23 by the NCAA indicated an 80 percent graduation success rate, which is an all-time high for Arizona State University. The GSR is based on student-athletes who entered college as freshmen in 2001-2004 and allows for the removal of those individuals from the cohort who left ASU in good academic standing prior to completing their eligibility.

The GSR is the NCAA's more comprehensive calculation of student-athlete academic success. The NCAA rate is more accurate than the federally mandated methodology because it includes incoming transfers and students enrolling in the spring semester who receive athletic aid and graduate and deletes from the calculation student-athletes who leave an institution and were academically eligible to compete. The federal rate does neither. Download Full Image

ASU's stated goal when the APR was introduced seven years ago was an 80-percent GSR.  At the time, ASU’s GSR was at 69 percent and has seen an 11-percent increase since that point.

In meeting that goal, ASU ranks tied for fifth in the Pac-12 Conference (out of 12 institutions), just one percentage point out of a tie for third-place (Washington and Utah, 81 percent) and just four percentage points from second place (UCLA at 84 percent).

ASU's women's GSR rate is 94 percent, which is second in the Pac-12 only to Stanford (98-percent). The ASU men's GSR is 67 percent, up from last year.

Four ASU teams lead the Pac-12 Conference with a four-year GSR of 100 percent: women’s golf, women’s swimming and diving, women’s tennis and women’s volleyball. The men’s golf team (86 percent) and the men’s swimming and diving teams (84 percent) had the highest GSR of men’s ASU teams, ranking sixth and fourth in the conference, respectively.

ASU's football team GSR is 63 percent, which ranks fifth in the Pac-12 and is just one percentage point behind Oregon (64 percent) in fourth and two points behind Utah (66 percent) in third.

This is the 22nd release of institutional graduation rates since national "right-to-know" legislation was passed in 1990. In 2005, the NCAA Division I Committee on Academic Performance implemented the initial release of the team GSR data.

“Sun Devil coaches, student-athletes and the office of student-athlete development have partnered with university resources to achieve the 80-percent threshold,” said Jean Boyd, associate athletic director for the Office of Student-Athlete Development. “This is the fifth consecutive year that we have improved our Graduation Success Rate. Moving from 69 percent to 80 percent is a significant accomplishment, yet we are already setting our sights on the 85 percent threshold.”

Britt Lewis

Interim Communications Director, ASU Library