For Humber business professor Earl Hotrum, awards and accolades come second to letting people know about the academic and community-based work he is doing in China.
Hotrum received the West Lake Friendship Award from China’s Zhejiang province in part for his work with Humber’s exchange program with Ningbo University.
The award means more to the university than it does to him personally, said Hotrum.
In his four years working full-time at Ningbo –located in Zhejiang on the east coast of China – Hotrum has been as much involved with outreach at the school and broader community issues, something he said the award recognizes.
“They take into consideration other things,” said Hotrum, via VoIP from his home in China. “I’ve been involved with visiting other schools that have to do with the (Ningbo) university, and I coached the public speaking team for the university.”
Hotrum said he has also taken part in tree-planting and environmental initiatives.
The three-year exchange program – which currently has 110 students enrolled – allows students to get more assimilated to the hands-on, participatory Western-style teaching in the second year.
Students from Ningbo come to Humber in their third and final year of the program, said Hotrum.
Business school manager Michael MacDougall said the students coming to Humber perform well in their classes.
“They’ve already done the first two years of their program and we have a very high graduation rate,” said MacDougall.
“Most of our students go on to university after our program.”
Andrew Leopold, Associate Director of Public Relations and Communications for Humber said having Earl Hotrum recognized by the Zhejiang province “speaks highly of Humber’s relationship with Ningbo University.”
“Having the opportunity for award winning professors to be involved in our programs is beneficial to our students, all the while Mr. Hotrum gets to learn from the Ningbo students year after year. This results in an engaging classroom experience for both,” said Leopold.
While Hotrum admitted the language barrier can create problems, he said it prepares students for life in Toronto.
“We’re pretty strict on our rule of no Chinese in the classroom,” said Hotrum. “After class sometimes I’ll ask them stuff in Chinese. My Chinese isn’t very good, but I feel like I can add some extra value that way.”
After the students graduate, Hotrum said he often keeps in touch and visits with the students to see how they’re doing.
“It’s very rewarding to see a student develop from a young student, and then go on elsewhere and come back and see you,” said Hotrum.