Thursday, November 8, 2007

"This is a big thing"

from The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead
Amy Dalrymple

A 17-member delegation working to launch a new college in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, left Wednesday for China to forge relationships with four universities. The trip should signal that the firm trying to acquire the former Regional Treatment Center is serious about turning it into a cultural studies institute, said Harold Stanislawski, executive director for the Fergus Falls Economic Improvement Commission. Minneapolis-based firm Institute Acquisition Partners has signed a letter of intent with Fergus Falls to begin negotiations for the Kirkbride building, the main structure on the campus. The group’s goal is to found a private nonprofit college called the Minnesota Institute for Cross Cultural Studies. The school would serve 1,000 students each semester, half from China and half from the United States, with a focus on language immersion and business studies. During the 10-day trip to China, the group will meet with representatives from four universities and government officials. Fergus Falls businessman Richard Anderson, a member of the delegation, said they hope to bring back memorandums of understanding from the Chinese universities. The documents would be nonbinding, but would be the first step in establishing relationships with the universities, Anderson said. The group’s preliminary plan is for the school to offer limited customized language training in summer 2008 and for the institute to open in 2009, Anderson said. “This is a big thing,” he said. “They don’t build colleges anymore. We’re building a college with international participation. It’s unheard of.” Other members of the delegation include Daniel Miller, CEO of a Twin Cities biomedical company with operations in China; Sen. Dan Skogen, DFL-Hewitt, Minn.; and Fargo developer Jeff Schlossman of Goldmark Schlossman Realty. Schlossman called the project an “unprecedented opportunity” that would have a significant economic impact on the region. Goldmark Schlossman Realty is in the process of acquiring another parcel of the Regional Treatment Center site that includes satellite buildings. Hawthorne Development of Fargo plans to acquire a third section of the site that includes an old nurses’ cottage. All of the parties are working together, Anderson said. Representatives from the Minnesota Private College Council also are in China this week on a separate trip and will join the Fergus Falls group.Concordia College Dean Mark Krejci, who will be part of the delegation, said he supports the firm’s vision and has been in conversation with them to help make it happen. “This trip will really confirm how realistic it is in terms of bringing students from China over here,” Krejci said.

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