Opportunities arise for visiting professor from UIR

A talented prosecutor-turned university professor in Peking, China, has come to Marietta College to spend the semester conducting research on teaching techniques and the U.S. legal system.

"I always hoped I would go to America and I finally got the chance," said Dr. Minge Ma, a visiting professor from the University of International Relations (UIR) in China.

Educated at the People's University of China in Beijing, he began his career as a lead prosecutor in the country's courts system before taking a professorship at UIR. He decided to pursue the visiting professorship at Marietta after receiving the recommendation from the Dean of the Law Department at his university.

Dr. Rita Smith Kipp, Provost at Marietta, said visiting scholars from UIR come to Marietta for one semester. "They have represented a variety of disciplines and have done different things," she said. "Sometimes they are interested in how their subject is taught here so they want to attend classes. Some of them have worked with our students in the Chinese language courses. Often, they look to practice and improve their English. Sometimes, like Professor Ma, they use the opportunity for research."

Aside from being a guest lecturer while at Marietta, Ma will study how the education system works at the College as well as further his understanding of American law.

"I have a clear and definite plan to research how the teaching methods and ways of learning in America are different from those in China," he said. "I have already noticed a difference just in class sizes, with the average class here at 15 to 20 and the average in China at 100 students per class."

In China, Ma is a professor of criminal law, international criminal law and legal writing. Though this is his first visit to the U.S., he has found the country to be very welcoming.

"America seems familiar to me. It is a lot like my hometown, Liaocheng, in the Shandong Province," he said. "Just like my hometown, the people are friendly and hard working. I noticed that when it snows, the workers are out on the road long before I wake up at 5 a.m., preparing the city for safe travel. They are hard working."

Grace Johnson, McCoy Professor of Accounting, has been helping Ma become acclimated with Marietta College's campus and the American culture. Aside from helping him develop his English speaking skills, Johnson plans to help him get connected with people who work in the criminal court system.

"I really would like to give him a chance to meet with local attorneys, judges and maybe even observe a criminal trial," Johnson said. "This would help him really understand the differences between criminal procedures in America as opposed to criminal procedures in China."

Upon returning to China after the spring semester, Ma hopes to utilize his research to improve his teaching skills, and teach his students about law in both Chinese and English, thus creating a bilingual educational experience.

"The UIR has a special relationship with Marietta College," Kipp said. "UIR lends support to our office in Beijing, where we recruit most of our students who come from China. We have also hosted a number of study groups from UIR on the campus, both student groups and faculty groups. UIR has hosted me, President Jean Scott, and other visitors from the College when we are in Beijing."