UW decides against branch in China

SEATTLE – The University of Washington has turned down an invitation from China to open a branch campus there, but former Gov. Gary Locke says the idea has merit and should be considered for the future.

After six months of examining the financial and administrative viability of the proposal, the university told Chinese officials it wouldn’t pursue the idea, despite lobbying by Chinese officials, an offer of land and a $100 million loan to build the campus.

The proposed 10,000-student campus was to be located in Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu Province, north of Shanghai.

“It would take an enormous amount of time and energy to launch something like that, and we’ve got plenty of needs in Seattle and in the state of Washington,” university President Mark Emmert said.

The university’s Asian studies program, as well as its faculty and student exchanges with China, attracted Chinese interest, as did Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to Seattle in April. But Susan Jeffords, the university’s vice provost for global affairs, said the financial and logistical challenges were too great.

“There were all sorts of legal and policy and financial issues,” Jeffords said. “We have two still relatively new campuses – in Tacoma and Bothell – in the state of Washington that are growing, and we want to make sure that they are successful.”

Jeffords said the Chinese delegation is exploring the proposal with other U.S. universities.

The news that the university had passed on the offer disappointed some who had supported the proposals during months of discussion.

Locke, who built ties with China while governor, said a branch campus in China would benefit Washington.

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