Students in field

Two Finlandia University faculty awarded Chinese Visiting Professorships

December 17, 2018

During a recent trip to Beihai College of Art and Design in China, Denise Vandeville, Dean of the International School of Art & Design, and Dr. Richard Gee, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, were offered an incredible opportunity to become a part of the college’s faculty by way of a visiting professorship.

“This recognition is one more positive expression of the maturing relationship between Beihai and Finlandia,” said Philip Johnson, President of Finlandia University. “Dr. Gee and Dean Vandeville are building relationships with faculty and students at Beihai that we believe will result in opportunities for more growth and further internationalization of Finlandia’s student body.”

Both Gee and Vandeville were asked to give a series of lectures at the university this fall.

“The visiting professorship was a surprise to me,” said Vandeville. “I was asked to give lectures on abstraction, and thought that was all I’d be doing there. It was a very pleasant surprise.”

This is Vandeville and Gee’s second trip to the college in the last year. The relationship between the two schools began a year ago with a phone call.

“The relationship with Beihai started last year, when we received a call that a painting professor, Dr. Cheng, wanted to visit Finlandia,” said Vandeville. “Six weeks later a group of us were over there (Beihai, China) visiting their campus.”

After this visit, Finlandia was chosen from a handful of American universities to work with Beihai. This relationship was nurtured by Vandeville and Gee’s visit. They were accompanied by President Johnson.

“When President Johnson and President Zeng met, they realized how similar the mission and values of both schools were,” said Vandeville. “This is what has continued the relationship.”

When asked if international teaching was a passion, “it’s fast becoming that way,” said Vandeville. “This is my first time and I love building connections with the students. I look forward to doing that more and more over the coming years.”

While Beihai College is first and foremost an Art and Design school, the university also welcomed the knowledge and perspective of Dr. Gee.

“My passion for teaching is for the comparison of the Criminal Justice systems in different countries, to help my students identify what works best,” said Gee.

Beihai College has applied for a college of law & security. This is where Dr. Gee will truly shine.

“The thing that excites me about going (to Beihai University) is the opportunity to learn more about their system in China,” said Gee. “Due to restrictions, my knowledge on their system is limited.”

Gee will be teaching on a variety of topics surrounding the American prison system, privatization of American prisons and the United States Constitution.

“When I received the visiting professorship from Beihai University I began to reflect on the way that I was teaching and how I taught,” said Gee. “Teaching to students, where I have to break down the vernacular in everything I’m saying, has made me look at how I’m teaching my own students back at Finlandia.”

The Visiting Professorship will continue for four years with annual trips for both Gee & Vandeville to teach to the Beihai College students.

“Four years from now, my goal for their students is to get a better understanding of the way things are here, dispel some myths and just represent the United States and Finlandia University,” said Gee.

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