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Chinese university, UNA sign memorandum to pursue degree program

The University of North Alabama has signed a memorandum of understanding with a Chinese university with the intent of establishing a center that will allow students to pursue a Master of Science degree in health and human performance. The degree will have a concentration in integrative health.

UNA President William Cale said students will learn how to take a holistic approach to health. Rather than focusing on a physical or mental issue, for example, they will learn to recognize that every part of a person is connected.

Cale said the agreement with Shenqi Ethnic Medicine College, owned by Zhang Zhiting, is pending approval by the UNA Board of Trustees as well as Zhang’s board. The Alabama Commission on Higher Education also must approve the program.

A site for the center has not been identified, but Cale said it will be in full operation and enrolling students no earlier than fall 2013. He said he expects the facility to be built somewhere in Florence.

Zhang offered to buy the former Florence Golf and County Club in summer 2011, which the city of Florence purchased in November 2009 for possible expansion of the city landfill. But anti-Chinese communist comments by City Council President James Barnhart and Councilman Sam Pendleton soured the offer, which was withdrawn.

Initial enrollment of about 100 students, mostly from China, is expected. Cale said enrollment should expand to a cross section of students as time proceeds.

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