Hawkins: Alabama part of global economy

Published 8:34 pm Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Dr. Jack Hawkins, chancellor of Troy University, told Andalusia Rotarians Tuesday that Alabama is increasingly taking part in the global economy and his university is doing its part to help.

Troy serves about 30,000 students, in Alabama and in 15 others states and in 11 other countries.

“On campus, we have students from more than 60 countries, and more than 300 students from China alone,” Hawkins said.

“My daughter has accused me of creating a Chinatown in Troy,” he laughed.

Hawkins cited a pamphlet published 62 years ago that proclaimed the South the nation’s No. 1 economic problem and described it as a “region so poor, and underdeveloped that many families earn no more than $200 a year.”

Times have changed, he said.

“If you think about where Andalusia and Covington County are,

one third of 1 percent held bachelor’s degrees then; today, more than 12 percent do.

“Then, 30 percent owned a home; 80 percent do today,” he said.

Alabama has learned that it can’t isolate itself from the rest of the world, he said, adding that last year, 800,000 automobiles were manufactured by international automakers in Alabama.

“We are in the global community,” he said.

In addition to its worldwide campuses, he said, Troy seeks to help American students better understand the Chinese culture through its Confucius Institute.

Confucius Institute at Troy University (CIT) is part of a global network of more than 204 Confucius Institutes in 50 countries, 54 Confucius Institutes currently in the United States, dedicated to the promotion and development of Chinese language education, and cultural and business exchange with the People’s Republic of China.

CIT was established as a response to the increasing need for learning Chinese in America. The CIT is the only Confucius Institute in Alabama.

“In the next decade, the largest English-speaking country in the world will be China,” Hawkins said, adding that it is important for American students to learn to speak Mandarin Chinese and to understand the history and culture of China, which currently has a population of $1.5 billion.

Hawkins also touched on Troy’s local impact. There are currently 250 students from Covington County enrolled at Troy, and there are 1,500 Troy alumni in Covington County.

Hawkins was the guest of Rotarian Earl Johnson.