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Vietnamese university official visits UNLV, paving way for exchange

In 2035, UNLV students might look around themselves and find that the majority of their non-American classmates are from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and neighboring countries. Since University World News projected that a plurality of the world’s college-age students would be from East Asia and the Pacific in 20 years’ time, U.S. colleges have taken a keen interest in this population. One potential connection: academic and cultural exchanges. That was partly behind UNLV’s developing exchange with Vietnam’s University of Nha Trang, expected to begin formally in 2016. The university’s rector (president equivalent) spent a week on the Las Vegas campus earlier this month, and Desert Companion sat down with him on the last day to gather his observations.

What does Nha Trang Uninversity get out of the exchange with UNLV?

After the university was established in 1949, we focused on fisheries and aquaculture. Afterward, we started new programs to focus on socioeconomics, environmental engineering, tourism management, biotech, civil engineering and other subjects. For those new programs, we need to improve the quality of the teaching staff, getting more of them trained at the Ph.D level. When we learned about UNLV and saw it had strengths in those programs, particularly tourism, we discussed a cooperative exchange.

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What are one or two of the most important things you’ll take from your visit?

Realizing that cooperation between Nha Trang and UNLV is possible. The first thing we have to focus on is the strong programs here and the high demand for (Southeast Asian) students here. The hospitality and environmental engineering programs here are especially strong, so we can send our staff here to be trained. We need more discussion, but it's on the way.

Has anything surprised you?

Finding out that some other cooperation may be possible as well — not only in the programs we knew about, but also computer science and English. When I talked with people about English language training, I realized that would be another way to help our staff, and you have good training in that here, too. It will help improve their teaching, and they can come back and teach English to our students.


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Desert Companion welcomed Heidi Kyser as staff writer in January 2014. In 2018, she was promoted to senior writer and producer, working for both DC and State of Nevada. She produced KNPR’s first podcast, the Edward R. Murrow Regional Award-winning Native Nevada, in 2020. The following year, she returned her focus full-time to Desert Companion, becoming Deputy Editor, which meant she was next in line to take over when longtime editor Andrew Kiraly left in July 2022.