Award winning journalist to speak at UMPI on China

Posted Sept. 07, 2010, at 8:38 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 11:53 a.m.

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — A Presque Isle High School graduate and award-winning journalist will kick off the 2010-11 Distinguished Lecture Series at University of Maine at Presque Isle on Thursday evening by leading a discussion on the increasing number of Chinese students flocking to American colleges.

Karin Fischer, a 1992 graduate of PIHS, serves as a senior reporter for The Chronicle of Higher Education. Fischer will deliver her talk, “The New China: A Rising Superpower Opts for Brainpower Rather than Manpower, and Looks to U.S. Colleges to Help It Succeed,” at 7 p.m. Thursday in UMPI’s Campus Center.

The Chronicle of Higher Education is an independent national magazine and online publication that covers issues important to colleges and universities.

Fischer was hired by The Chronicle in 2004 to write about higher-education politics and policy in the states. She covers the business of international education and the globalization of higher education, including competition for foreign students, activities by American colleges overseas, policies and programs that affect the international activities of American colleges, and the internationalization of the college experience. She also writes about the role of colleges and universities in economic development in their town, state and region.

Fischer recently traveled throughout Asia as a participant in the East-West Center’s 2010 Jefferson Fellowship program.

During a telephone interview Tuesday, Fischer said that China, which has long been a closed society in which education was suspect, has begun to change.

“As China has grown and become more engaged in the world, it has begun to see education as key to its success,” she said. “The government has invested a great deal of money in higher education and into classrooms and research labs. They want to use the human resources that are in their own country, but it’s getting harder to keep up with the growing demand for college educations. That has led more Chinese students to seek out educations in the U.S.”

Fischer said that the U.S. has seen double-digit growth in the number of Chinese students coming to colleges in the states. Most Chinese students are still seeking out educations in their own country, she said, but an increasing number are looking abroad.

The trend has benefits for both nations.

“The Chinese students garner an education, and U.S. college campuses become more global,” she said. “I think that a lot of colleges are interested in international students. They are thinking, ‘How can we give this global experience to students?’ The economy is very global, so graduates need to be able to interact with people from different cultures.”

She added that the trend also has influenced colleges and universities in the U.S. to work harder to recruit Chinese students, send American undergraduates to study there and seek robust academic partnerships with Chinese institutions.

During her recent travels in China, Fischer said, she had dinner with a Chinese couple and their 7-year-old daughter.

“They were already talking about her future as far as college,” she said Tuesday. “They were discussing whether she would stay in China to attend a university or whether she would go abroad.”

Before her work with The Chronicle, Fischer covered banking, insurance and corporate governance for Kiplinger Washington Editors. She also has worked as a journalist and copy editor in West Virginia and Massachusetts. Her work has appeared in The Washington Monthly and George magazines.

Fischer has been a guest on National Public Radio and C-SPAN. She also is the recipient of the Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellowship and a National Press Foundation fellowship on the Business of Higher Education. She is part of reporting teams that have been honored by the Education Writers Association, for articles in The Global Campus and Asia Rising-America Falling series, and by the Utne Independent Press Award for best political coverage. In 1997, she was selected for the Poynter Institute News Reporting & Writing Fellowship for College Graduates, which recognizes a dozen outstanding young journalists annually. Fischer earned her bachelor’s degree in government from Smith College in Northampton, Mass., in 1996.

The university’s Distinguished Lecture Series was established in 1999. Each year, the series committee sponsors five to six speakers who come from Maine and beyond, representing a range of disciplines and viewpoints.

Fischer’s lecture is free, and the public is invited.

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