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Providing a cultural and academic bridge for universities continents apart

Long Pham, assistant business administration professor, is used to urban sprawl and large crowds. Minot State University, efficiently arranged, with a mere 3,700 students, is a nice departure from a journey that began in his hometown of Hanoi, Vietnam.

Pham's post-secondary school education originated at National Economics University, a prestigious institution of 45,000 students, known for economics, management and business in Vietnam. He graduated in 1998 with a bachelor's degree in banking and finance and joined the faculty.

From 2001-2003, he pursued his master's in business administration at University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, a university with over 20,000 students, in Bangkok. After completing his MBA, Pham returned to NEU.

Vietnam's Ministry of Education and Training offers scholarships to up-and-coming lecturers eager to study in the U.S. Pham received an award, and in 2006 he enrolled at New Mexico State University, 23,000 students strong in Las Cruces, to pursue a master's in applied statistics and a doctorate in management.

"I chose to study in the U.S. because most people in Vietnam believe the U.S. university system is number one in the world," he said. "New Mexico State University has a large Vietnamese student community, the management department is very good, and tuition is cheap."

Before defending his dissertation, Pham received several offers to teach in the U.S. MSU is where he decided to call home.

"I came here because I was impressed by the dreams of MSU. I was impressed by the university's vision and mission. I was impressed with Dr. (Gary) Ross, department chair, and Dean (JoAnn) Linrud of the College of Business," he said.

He also liked MSU's size.

"New Mexico State University is a research university and class sizes were very large," Pham said. "MSU is a teaching university, and classes are 22-25 students. It is easy to communicate with all the students in class, and the professors focus on long-term student success."

In late August, Pham returns to Vietnam for two years. He will lecture at NEU and continue online teaching for MSU. He is more excited to orchestrate an academic partnership between MSU, NEU and the Foreign Trade University in Hanoi.

"I will serve as a bridge between the two universities in Vietnam and MSU to create a partnership where a student can study three years in Vietnam and one year at MSU to earn a degree in international business," Pham said. "One or two years from now, students will come here to study. My job is to speed up the pace."