TRAVERSE CITY — Northwestern Michigan College officials are in China to visit several education groups over the course of a taxpayer-funded 11-day trip.
NMC President Tim Nelson flew to Beijing March 8 with NMC vice presidents Marguerite Cotto and Chris Weber. Travel costs are expected to approach $10,000.
They are scheduled to return to Traverse City March 19, but first they'll meet with officials from four education institutions as they travel between five cities scattered throughout the second-largest country in Asia, according to the group's itinerary.
Stephen Siciliano, vice president for educational services, said the trip coincides with the community college officials' efforts to build relationships with several institutions of higher learning in China.
"With the ultimate hope that some of their students will come and be international students here at the college," Siciliano said.
But developing those relationships comes with a price, and NMC will pay for the delegation's travel and lodging expenses.
Vicki Cook, vice president of finance and administration, said the three officials' round-trip, economy-class airline tickets cost about $4,700 total.
She said the trip's total cost, which includes lodging and travel in China, likely will approach $10,000 — the amount officials budgeted in a special fund for international strategic projects.
NMC also is covering the travel expenses for Gene Jenneman, executive director of the Dennos Museum, who flew to China on separate business. Jenneman is there to meet with museum officials and artists, but he'll periodically meet with the other three NMC officials.
Cook said she did not know details of Jenneman's travel expenses, though his costs will be paid through the museum's coffers.
NMC officials said forming ties with Beijing Channel Consulting, Huanggang Polytechnic College, Yellow River Conservancy Technical Institute and Weiming Education Group — a group Traverse City Area Public Schools officials also started working with last year — makes the trip a worthwhile investment.