As coronavirus spreads in China and throughout the world, Missouri State University has temporarily halted travel to the country.
MSU officials yesterday issued a letter to students and faculty indicating all university travel has been canceled for the time being, with the directive to be revisited in mid-February. The letter — provided to Springfield Business Journal — is signed by Jim Baker, vice president for research, economic development and international programs, and Frederick Muegge, director of health and wellness services.
“Missouri State student travel abroad during the spring semester is generally low; however, the office of study away programs is in touch with known travelers,” the letter reads. “The university is currently assessing the status of university-sponsored spring break travel to China and the region.”
MSU has long-standing roots in China, though its work in the country is hundreds of miles away from Wuhan, where coronavirus is thought to have originated.
“No one on the Missouri State campus has traveled to or returned from Wuhan, China, in the last several weeks,” the MSU letter reads. “None of the reported cases have any connection to Missouri State University, and none have been diagnosed in Missouri.”
More than 8,200 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed, with at least 170 deaths, according to CNBC. Five U.S. cases have been reported.
MSU’s work in China started in 1998, when the school teamed up with Qingdao University in the Chinese city of the same name. MSU established its own campus in 2000 in Dalian, China, in partnership with Liaoning Normal University, according to SBJ archives.
Suzanne Shaw, vice president of marketing and communications for MSU, said the LNU-MSU College of International Business is the Springfield school’s “only true university in China.” She said three teaching assistants at LNU from the College of Business decided to return to the United States as classes across China have been postponed for at least the next several weeks. They’re scheduled to leave China on Friday, she said.
“Students from LNU will many times begin at LNU and then come to Springfield for a semester or more,” she said.
Shaw said MSU does not have any students at Qingdao University, a partner school. MSU President Clif Smart in 2018 spoke at Qingdao University to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the partnership between the two schools, according to the school’s website.
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