Saint Martin's celebrates decade-long partnership with Shanghai program

July, 19 2011

Ten years ago, Saint Martin’s University extended its reach across the Pacific Ocean, establishing an educational partnership with Shanghai Maritime University in Shanghai, China. In the decade since, the cooperative program has graduated 2,700 Chinese students. As it looks ahead to the next 10 years, Saint Martin’s prepares to celebrate the milestone anniversary.

On Monday, July 18, the Saint Martin’s University board of trustees will honor 10 years of collaboration and cultural exchange with the Shanghai institution. At a special dinner, University trustees and leaders will be joined by more than 60 honored guests, including 50 Shanghai Maritime University students participating in this summer’s English as a Second Language (ESL) program at Saint Martin’s. Also in attendance will be five graduates from the first cohort of the Shanghai program, who now live and work in Washington state.

“When we began this partnership, we envisioned the program to prepare students for the emerging economy in China,” explains Josephine Yung, vice president of international programs and development at Saint Martin’s. “The program offers English language training and courses in international business and Western-style accounting. For many of the students, it is their first exposure to market economy and Western management techniques.”

Since the program’s launch in 2001, Saint Martin’s University has sent 60 faculty members to Shanghai to teach intensive courses.

“The program helps bridge the cultural gap and provides valuable business skills to Chinese students,” adds Yung, who notes that, with such a strong Western presence in Shanghai, many Shanghai-based companies seek Chinese workers who are proficient in English and Western business practices.

Students who complete the cooperative program at Shanghai Maritime University receive a certificate from Saint Martin’s University. The certificates are awarded every spring in Shanghai at a graduation ceremony attended by Saint Martin’s leaders.

For some Shanghai Maritime University students, participation in the program has led to academic pursuits at Saint Martin’s. Every July, about 40 of the Shanghai students travel to Saint Martin’s Lacey campus for a month-long summer immersion session. Since 2001, approximately 100 of the Shanghai Maritime University graduates have transferred to Saint Martin’s to complete their undergraduate and graduate studies.

The partnership with Shanghai Maritime University represents just one facet of Saint Martin’s longstanding history with Asia. In the 1920s, the Benedictine order became the first to establish a Catholic university in China — Fu Jen Catholic University in what is now Beijing. Father Placidus Houtmeyers, O.S.B., from Saint Martin’s Abbey assisted with the endeavor, taking a lead role in the introduction of Catholic education principles to China. In the 1980s, Saint Martin’s initiated collaborations with other Pacific Rim countries such as Japan, Korea and Taiwan. Such partnerships continue to thrive today.

“Monday’s anniversary celebration will honor the spirit of collaboration that has defined the work between what we affectionately call ‘SMU East’ and ‘SMU West’,” says Roy F. Heynderickx, Ph.D., president of Saint Martin’s University. “Through the Shanghai program, we have built a thriving cross-cultural, cross-continental community that supports student success. For 10 years, leaders, faculty members and students from both institutions have contributed to a burgeoning global awareness and have fostered a sense of responsible world citizenry.”

Saint Martin’s University is an independent four-year, Catholic, coeducational university located on a 380-acre wooded campus in Lacey, Washington. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 14 Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 21 majors and six graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes 1,250 students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its main campus, and 650 more to its extension campuses located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Everett College, Centralia College and Tacoma Community College. Visit the Saint Martin’s University website at

For more information:

Josephine Yung
Vice president of international programs and development
Saint Martin’s University

Jennifer Fellinger
Vice president of marketing and communications
Saint Martin's University