International Studies & Programs

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VIPP People

VIPP Staff

Our team delivers high-quality programs and services for international professionals and delegations. VIPP's specialized staff is committed to providing a transformative experience at Michigan State University. Hosting close to 500 visitors annually, we understand what visiting professionals, funding agencies, sponsors, and employers want and need.

Xinyu Wu, PhD, Director

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It is a great privilege to work as the Director of VIPP at Michigan State University since September 2015. I am responsible for VIPP's long-term development strategy by providing leadership on all key areas including stakeholder engagement, program design, partnership development, and alumni engagement. I am leading a talented team of highly qualified professionals to increase program participation as well as program diversity. VIPP is now welcoming about 500 international visitors from more than 40 countries for professional development and exchange on an annual basis.

I also serve as the Executive Director of the Michigan Council for Citizen Diplomacy, which is a community-based member for implementing U.S. Department of State sponsored international professional leadership development and cultural exchange program. From September 2018, I took on the co-directorship of MSU Office China Program and play an active role in MSU’s China engagement.

MSU is my first employer in the U.S. after living and working in Europe for almost 25 years. I am a native Pekinger and trained as a computer scientist. I did my Ph.D. in Artificial Intelligence at the University of Ulster, UK after obtaining a first-class honors degree in Applied Computing in Wuhan University, China. Following a successful academic career in the UK, I moved to management in the area of International Education. Over the last 20 years, I developed a strong reputation in establishing and managing collaborative links with a large number of international universities around the world for research and education. I worked as the Director of International Education Centers in a number of universities, including Bangor University and Middlesex University in the UK and the National University of Ireland Maynooth.

One of my proudest achievements while working in Bangor University was the development of the University's Transnational Education strategy. I led the University successfully launched degree and certificate programs in China, Singapore, Tashkent, and Bahrain. I was instrumental in setting up a joint university campus in China which now offers a range of Bangor University undergraduate programs. I also played a key role in setting up the Welsh Summer Institute with Fulbright, which brings talented young Americans to Wales every summer. I have a successful track record in working with government agencies on large-scale research projects. During my time in Ireland, I served on the Irish University Association Board and led the alliance to successfully secure funding from government agencies to set up joint international research centers and incubations.

Xiaoqing Chen, PhD, Assistant Director

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I joined the VIPP team as a Program Coordinator in fall of 2014 and was promoted to Assistant Director in December of 2023. I design and develop both short-term and long-term programs for international professionals and students and make sure that they benefit from our programs and services.

I earned my Ph.D. degree in Second Language Studies at Michigan State University. My major field of study includes conversational interaction, with a focus on the effect of corrective feedback on foreign/second language learning and the factors affecting the effect of corrective feedback. I am also interested in learner/teacher beliefs and learner motivation. Before coming to MSU, I had received a master's degree in Linguistics and Applied Linguistics at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies in China, and had been teaching in a couple of universities in China for a few years. Recently, VIPP began hosting many visiting scholars specialized in foreign language teaching and research, and I am happy to use my expertise to serve them by giving lectures, organizing seminars, and providing academic supervision.

At VIPP, it is my pleasure to work with professionals from all over the world and from diverse educational backgrounds. I am happy to be a part of the whole MSU community that is dedicated to realizing its World Grant Ideal.

Yanjiang Teng, PhD, Program Coordinator


(517) 432-3663                                         


It is my great privilege to work with the fantastic international professionals. I assist the director in running the summer school program and help administer the VIPP short-term and long-term professional training programs. I joined VIPP in January 2019 after I completed my Ph.D. majoring in Curriculum, Instruction, and Teacher Education in the College of Education at Michigan State University.

My research mainly focuses on second language teacher education, English language learners' acculturation, university teaching pedagogy, and academic writing. I began my career as a faculty member in a Chinese university for both undergraduate and graduate students. Later, I went to the United Kingdom to further my studies and research, and subsequently came to teach Chinese in the U.S. I taught in K-12 settings for three years. Then, I pursued my doctorate degree at Michigan State University with a specialization in second language teacher education.

Living and working in multicultural settings have enhanced my sense of understanding the diversity issues related to international talents studying abroad. It is my honor to use my expertise to support our visitors to have an enjoyable and productive experience at VIPP.

I love calligraphy, hiking, and other outdoor activities.

Teresa M. Svec, JD, Communications Manager

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I am excited to be part of the VIPP team as communications manager. In this role I oversee VIPP’s communication and outreach efforts, including publicizing VIPP programming, writing news articles, maintaining the VIPP website, and communicating with VIPP stakeholders such as international partners, government agencies, alumni, and participants. I have been teaching international students at Michigan State University since 2012, including instructing internationally educated lawyers in the American Legal System Program at the College of Law, teaching English as an assistant professor at the MSU English Language Center, and working with visiting professionals from around the world for VIPP. I teach courses in a variety of disciplines including law, research, writing, and business English. I love learning about different cultures and working with people from all around the world, and have taught students from over 25 different countries and counting!

Prior to working at MSU, I served as a policy advisor for the nonprofit organization Disability Network Michigan, advocating for disability rights and legislative changes. A proud Spartan through and through, I hold a J.D. from MSU Law, and a B.A. in linguistics from the College of Arts & Letters, and I am a member of the State Bar of Michigan. I am so glad to be able to use my love of language and writing to do such rewarding work.

In my spare time I enjoy playing disc golf, learning to play new songs on my tin whistle, and exploring Michigan’s great outdoors with my family.

James Magee, MA, Program Coordinator

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James Magee brings over a decade of practical and professional international experience in both the higher education and non-profit sectors. Before coming to work at Michigan State University, James worked as an Assistant Professor in the Global Business Department at Kosin University in South Korea, and as the Executive Director of a number of small nonprofit organizations. In these roles, James taught on a number of cultural and worldview engagement issues, and was a staunch advocate for a number of human rights issues, including the rights of immigrants, refugees, and the LGBTQ+ community. James is currently finishing his PhD in International Relations with a B.A. from the University of Wales Bangor, and a Masters from Calvin.

Rhett Louis Butler, MBA, Program Coordinator

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Rhett brings over 10 years of combined experience in international education and trade regulatory compliance, having served as an Export Control Analyst in the VPRGI Office, department of Export Control and Trade Sanctions at MSU. In this role he provided analysis and developed policies/procedures for ensuring compliance with federal export control regulations and produced risk assessment plans. This year he celebrated his 10th year working at MSU. Before joining MSU, Rhett worked as a trade compliance specialist for a Detroit based legal consulting firm, which allowed him to pursue his passion for international project management. In this role, Rhett worked with clients that operated their businesses in many different countries. Rhett holds a Master of Business Administration, majoring in International Business, from Oakland University School of Business, and a BA in International Relations from the James Madison College at Michigan State University.

 In his spare time Rhett enjoys learning foreign languages, reading history, getting outdoors, and trips with his family.

Bethany Johnson, Fiscal Officer & Office Manager

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I joined the Visiting International Professional Program (VIPP) team in the summer of 2023, taking on the dual role of Fiscal Officer and Office Manager at Michigan State University. With an extensive background encompassing eight years of financial management, my journey has been marked by a diverse array of roles that culminated in my ascent to a managerial position.

My career trajectory has encompassed multifaceted responsibilities, from meticulous account management to the seamless orchestration of office operations. Navigating through these diverse roles has equipped me with a comprehensive skill set, while affording me the opportunity to engage with individuals from all walks of life. This rich tapestry of experience has not only honed my professional insight but has also heightened my appreciation for the vibrant mosaic of cultures that enrich our global landscape.

A profound fascination for different cultures has always been woven into the fabric of my personal and professional interests. In my capacity at VIPP, I am bestowed with the privilege of working alongside international professionals, an opportunity I hold in the highest regard. Collaborating within the dynamic realm of VIPP, I am dedicated to fostering cross-cultural exchange and contributing to the growth of a vibrant community. I look forward to the continued journey of both personal and professional growth, driven by an unwavering commitment to excellence and the boundless potential of international collaboration.

Beyond the realms of my professional pursuits, I find solace in the pages of captivating books, relish quality moments with cherished family and friends, and engage in the challenge and leisure of golfing.

John Magee, MA, Program Coordinator

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John brings a wealth of international experience garnered over a decade across higher education and administrative roles. Prior to his current endeavors, John held prominent positions at Madonna University, where he contributed significantly as the Assistant Vice President and Chief International Officer. In this capacity, he orchestrated and cultivated global partnerships, emphasizing the importance of international collaborations, and overseeing Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs).

His academic journey includes a master’s in international relations from the University of Leicester, shaping his profound understanding of global dynamics. With a foundation laid upon academic pursuits, John's dedication to creating inclusive study abroad programs and fostering equitable opportunities for diverse student populations remains pivotal. His commitment to international collaborations and enriching academic experiences reflects a steadfast dedication to inclusive educational practices.

John is deeply committed to furthering the cause of global engagement and equitable educational experiences. His academic background combined with hands-on experience in international affairs underscores his ongoing dedication to fostering enriched, globally-minded academic communities.


VIPP Faculty

All VIPP instructors are experienced teachers who have been working with international audiences at MSU, as well as abroad. They not only bring knowledge and experience to the classroom, but also mentorship and guidance.

Zeynep Altinsel

IMG_1171.jpgI have been teaching at MSU for the last 26 years. This year has been another rewarding year with my VIPP students who are very enthusiastic about improving their communication skills. We discuss and debate controversial topics in class and hear everyone’s voice.

I graduated from Bosphorus University in Istanbul, Turkey with an English degree, and received my M.A. in TESOL from MSU.

I taught Speaking classes for the International Graduate Assistants at MSU for 25 years,  coordinated language and culture programs for teaching assistants. I presented and shared at the TESOL conferences with colleagues from other US universities. I was also a pronunciation consultant to international faculty at MSU.

In addition to teaching, I offered pronunciation workshops to post-doctoral fellows and graduate students. In language programs I trained American tutors to work with international students.

Currently, I am a language consultant in the Economics department and teach in the VIPP program.


VIP 467 Communication Strategies and Social Discourse 

This English class is designed to help international students overcome linguistic and cultural challenges in professional interactions.  The class addresses the concern of many students about participating in group discussions by increasing their fluency and cultural competency. Classroom discussions on controversial topics will actively engage students and promote learning. Students will also be encouraged to give presentations, participate in debates and lead group discussions.   

VIP 462 Strategic Communication and Debates 

This English speaking class is designed to help international students enhance their critical thinking skills. By participating in debates, group discussions and presentations, students will think critically about social issues and and reflect on values. Classroom discussions will engage students and improve their fluency and cross-cultural competency. 

Keith I. Bezant Niblett

keithniblett.jpgAssistant Director, International Relationships & Executive Development Programs
The Eli Broad College of Business

Keith Niblett is the Assistant Director of Executive Development Programs The Eli Broad Graduate School of Management. In this role, focusing on Customized and International programs, he is working on whole program design, marketing and sales, teaching and support, continuous improvement and strategic geographic and portfolio development.

Keith also is Chairman of the Board of a fast growing US National Home Owners Association services company, and a senior Board member of a New York based international manufacturing and marketing company, which has over twenty manufacturing units in every major continent in the world. 

To learn more about Keith, check VIPP's blog




VIP 474:  Leadership through Change and Innovation 


This course will take participants through a journey that will visit many of the organization leadership styles of the last one hundred years, and enable participants to ask the question ‘What is the predominant management style in my organization today?’ Participants will learn to recognize different leadership styles and to make judgments about what is the most appropriate leadership style depending upon the situation and against a backdrop of rapid continuous change. 


Todd Bradley

todd bradley side-by-side.jpgInstructor

Central Human Resources' Talent Management Unit at Michigan State University

I am a native of Flint, Michigan and attended the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, graduating in 1981. I have been certified as an Addictions Counselor through the Michigan Certification Board for Addiction Professionals, a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Treatment Specialist through the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Professionals as well as a Certified Sexual Offender Treatment Specialist through the American College for Forensic Counselors.

Currently I am a Certified Human Resource Specialist through the College of Human Resources and Labor Relations at Michigan State University. I have worked in either behavioral health care or human services for over 32 years. I have been both a program and unit director for the Boys and Girls Club of Lansing. I have also served as a milieu therapist for Borgess Medical Center and a program director for a psychiatric hospital serving adolescent patients.

I was a director of outpatient and residential services for Insight Inc., where I was employed for 17 years. Currently, I am employed by Michigan State University in Central Human Resources' Talent Management unit as an Organization Development Professional and am co-owner of Zoe Life Spa and Salon, and the Yoga and Wellness Center. I am also an active member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc and serve on the Care Free Medical and the Uplift Our Youth Foundation Boards of Directors.

I am a professional trainer, interventionist, and motivational speaker\and provide workshops in such areas as Workplace Violence Prevention, Cultural Sensitivity, Trauma, No Harassments, Anger Management, Customer Service, Assertion, Positive Thinking, Team Building and Conflict Resolution. I also deliver motivational messages to students, faculty, and parents from various school systems on Substance Abuse Prevention, No Bullying, Goal Setting and Positive Parenting.


VIP 488: Personnel Training & Development

I teach foundational human resources classes that address training and personal development which fit under the umbrella of Talent Management, such as basic knowledge of organization behavior, professional development, systems, data collection, networking, communication, assessment, and reporting are explored.


Erika Butler

Erika Side-by-Side.jpgAdjunct Professor
College of Business
International Studies and Programs

I am proud to be a part of the VIPP program at Michigan State University. Like you, I came to MSU as a foreign student. However, the minute I drove in to our campus, I knew this is where I belonged. Since then, I have earned four degrees from MSU; a BA in English Literature, an MA in Organizational Communication, an MA in Educational Psychology, and a PhD in Telecommunication. Since 1994, I have been teaching at MSU in various departments on campus.

In addition to my work at VIPP, I also serve as an adjunct professor in the Eli Broad College of Business. The courses I have taught over the years focus on business, technology, and globalization. Prior to teaching at MSU, I was a professional in the IT world, where I specialized in developing business solutions through the use of new technologies. At General Motors/Electronic Data Systems, I evaluated, designed and implemented computing solutions in manufacturing and was involved in many aspects of supply chain management, purchasing, and quality control.

My research has focused on how communication technologies influence interpersonal behavior. My personal interests are diversity, cultural customs, cooking, and international business. I speak English, Dutch, German, and French and I love to go dancing with my husband.

Side-By-Side Erika Class.jpgCourses

VIP 462: Cross Cultural Business Communication

As the workforce becomes more mobile and our business partners increasingly are abroad, managers are finding they must seek out or develop human talent that can consistently function successfully in a variety of cross-cultural circumstances. Those individuals who can function successfully in these circumstances are said to have high Cultural Intelligence (CQ). This six-week course will focus on developing your Cultural Intelligence and your cross-cultural communication skills in order to enhance your ability to interact in teams globally. CQ is the capability to effectively perform in culturally diverse situations. CQ is increasingly becoming a critical skill that enhances employee, manager, and organizational effectiveness in cross-cultural settings. During this course you will attend lectures to enhance your cultural knowledge and communication skills. You will participate in a variety of exercises and discussions during these lectures to practice recognizing and capitalizing on cultural considerations in the business environment.

VIP 483: Organizational Behavior

This course assumes that students are working professionals who have some academic and personal experience with organizations and how they function. The course will review classic western-based organizational behavior theory from a macro and micro perspective. We will review theories of motivation in the work environment and how organizational design influences these processes. We will also review leadership, decision-making and power theories. This course will be a condensed form of a master's level foundational course in Organizational Behavior.

Xiaoqing Chen

Academic Specialist and Program Coordinator

Visiting International Professional Program


I am an academic specialist and program coordinator at VIPP of MSU. I received my Ph.D. in Second Language Studies from the Program of Second Language Studies of Michigan State University. Part of my responsibility is to provide academic advice for VIPP participants. I am also teaching a course Instructed Foreign Language Teaching for those who are specialized in foreign language teaching and research.  I am interested in doing research on conversational interaction, with a focus on the effect of corrective feedback on foreign/second language learning and the factors affecting the effect of corrective feedback. I am also interested in learner individual differences in language aptitude, working memory, and learner belief. 


VIP 857: Instructed Foreign Language Learning

The audience of this course is mainly foreign language teachers who intend to familiarize themselves with theories concerning their teaching practice and who are interested in doing research on second language acquisition. In this course, foreign language teaching will be broken down into an array of its components, including input, output, corrective feedback, learner attention, individual differences such as motivation and working memory, and so forth. Then we will tap into the theories underpinning each of these components, such as Input Hypothesis, Output Hypothesis, Noticing Hypothesis, Interaction Hypothesis, etc. In so doing, we will be familiarized with not only the ways that justify how a foreign language is taught, but also the factors that affect the learning of a foreign language. This process is intertwined with the analysis of a number of influential empirical studies in this line of research that throw light on how we develop research question, design experiment, collect and analyze data, and interpret research findings. Equipped with knowledge and skill in this area, students will come up with their own research topics and do research in groups on the next phases of their program. 

Rachael Gates

002.jpgRachael Gates | gatesrk(at) 

am an American-born soprano who enjoys singing in eight languages. I have sung in Germany, Russia, Italy and throughout the United States. I am also a public speaker and in demand for vocal health presentations based on my book, The Owner’s Manual to the Voice: A Guide for Singers and Other Professional Voice Users (Oxford). I enjoy working with anyone relying heavily on their voice for a paycheck - including singers, broadcasters, actors, politicians, coaches, preachers, teachers, and medical clinicians. I have taught at Northwestern University, The Hartt School of Music, Yale University, Michigan State University and Grand Valley State University. I am a Disney Teaching Artist, I belong to the Performing Arts Medical Association, and I am the voice specialist for the College Music Society Committee on Musicians’ Health. My degrees in music performance are from Carnegie Mellon University, The University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and The Ohio State University, where I pioneered a Singing Health Specialization at The OSU Medical Center with laryngologist L. Arick Forrest, MD and Kerrie Obert CCC-SLP. My focuses are vocal performance, vocal pedagogy, singing and speaking health, language diction, stage movement, acting, and directing.

I find it very gratifying to work across cultures and disciplines and share performance skills with those wanting to improve their enunciation, vocal quality, stage presence, confidence, and ability to communicate effectively! 


VIP 685 Public Speaking

This low-pressure series of workshops will equip you with the skills and tools needed to present yourself as believable and compelling public speaker of English.  All will participate in fun improvisations, short presentations, and discussions in a comfortable setting.  Presentations will be around 5-7 minutes long and should take about an hour outside of class time to prepare.  Our time together will be both practical and creative as we practice techniques to overcome stage fright, learn to use body language and eye contact to our advantage, and develop our voice’s potential for effective delivery.  I will be video and/or audio recording everyone’s work to track progress.  Please be prepare to have fun, be a little silly, and take minor risks.

Sandra Hou

IMG_9691.jpgSandra Hou grew up in Taiwan and graduated with a B.A. in English Language and Literature from Soochow University, Taipei.  In 1997, she moved to Michigan to attend Central Michigan University. She holds an M.A. in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).  Prior to joining VIPP in 2019, she has taught ESL (English as a Second Language) at Central Michigan University and Saginaw Valley State University as a graduate student. She is currently an Adjunct Associate Professor at Lansing Community College as well as an adjunct instructor at MSU’s English Language Center. 

In addition to langue teaching and culture sharing, she deeply cares about animal rights and environmental issues.  In her free time, she enjoys being a homebody spending quiet time with her family. 




VIP 414: Idioms


Native speakers commonly use idioms in both speaking and to a lesser extent writing to add color and interest to their communications. Idioms can be confusing to non-native speakers because they often haven’t studied idioms in their traditional textbooks and English coursework. So, in this course, we will use authentic materials to study the colloquial uses of idioms in their contexts. Additionally, we will explore the connections between the literal and figurative meanings of many common American idioms in order to help students better remember idioms and be able to figure out the meanings of new idioms. We will practice idioms through listening, speaking, reading, and writing activities within many common American cultural situations.  


Anna Kortemeyer

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Anna Kortemeyer

I’m proud to be a long-time Michigan resident after coming to the Lansing area to pursue graduate studies at MSU. My degrees are in music (MM and DMA) and in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (MA TESOL). I’ve been a performing and teaching violinist for more than twenty years in and around Chicago, Maryland, Colorado and Lansing.

In addition to teaching with VIPP, I am an instructor with MSU's English Language Center. My interests in the field of Language Teaching and Learning include English for Academic Purposes (EAP) curriculum development, community ESL programs, Pragmatics and Writing. My professional projects and presentations have investigated multi-level diversity within community ESL programs, and topics related to Academic Discourse and Pragmatics.

In addition to my work as a music and language instructor, I have also served as a community ESL program Director and have worked in curriculum development. I enjoy making and sharing music, volunteering, learning about cultures, spending time with family and friends, and traveling within Michigan and overseas.

Ian Leighton

Ian.jpgIan Leighton
International Studies & Programs

My name is Ian Leighton, and I am a new instructor at VIPP. I began teaching here in May 2015. I have a BA in Anthropology from Wayne State University in Detroit. I also have an MA in TESOL from Eastern Michigan University. I taught for years in Michigan and Colorado and taught for 14 years in Korea. I taught briefly at VIPP in the summer of 2007. Most recently, I taught at Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul, Korea from 2003-2013 (성균관대학교 成均館大學校).

I've had a great experience working at VIPP. Having worked here in 2007 helped me decide to move back to the Lansing area so I could work here again. I find the students to be very eager to learn and the other instructors and staff very cooperative and helpful.

Together, VIPP has one of the best learning atmospheres I have ever been a part of.

I mostly teach Presentations / Public Speaking, but I hope to teach a wider range of classes in the near future.


VIP 485B Public Speaking

The overall aim of this class is to develop your ability to present academic material in English, and to do this with confidence. Specifically this means that you will practice developing your presentation from a simple idea through to a valuable, informative and interesting talk. We will study and practice various types of presentations; do activities to overcome stage-fright; study body language, proper voice projection and usage, eye contact, posture, using visual aids, and of course, we will practice presenting a great deal with several short (3-5 minute) presentations. These presentations are designed to be light and fun. They should not require too much outside preparation time. Though, they will take some time. My philosophy is that students need to practice a lot, as opposed to studying about presentations in a book. However, we will use sections of a book at times. Though you may be an experienced presenter / teacher, there is always more that you can learn. Perhaps you've been presenting almost every day of your professional life. By studying and with guidance, you can learn to become a more dynamic presenter. You can work on skills you may have never thought of before: voice projection, eye contact, where to stand when working with a visual aid, etc. This class is designed for students who have been presenting for much of their lives, but need to boost their skill level a bit and become a more vibrant presenter.

Ruth Mendel

Ruth Mendel side-by-side.jpgInstructor
International Studies & Programs

I have taught in the VIPP since 2007. I have a law degree from Yale Law School (1984) and a Master's degree in TESOL from MSU (2007). In addition to teaching in the VIPP, I have taught at the University of Michigan in the summer intensive program for incoming international graduate students for four years, taught in the English Language Center for two years, and currently work as a private instructor and editor through my tutoring and editing services business, RMELI. As an instructor at VIPP, I have taught Conversational English, the Writing Process, Idioms, and Communication Skills. For more information, please visit my website,


VIP 417: Academic and Professional Writing

This course focuses on areas of writing that are important in academic and professional writing and can pose difficulties for second language speakers. Topics covered in the course include email writing, data commentary (how we discuss data), cross-cultural issues in second language writing, process descriptions, problem-solution texts, reported speech, use of the conditional tense in writing, and common patterns of errors in second language writing.

As this is a writing class, students who sign up for the class should expect to write. Writing will take the form of both in-class free writing assignments and short assignments. There will be no long paper or presentation required for the class; instead there will be 4-5 short (approximately 1 page) assignments. Students will receive extensive individualized feedback on both in-class writing exercises and written homework to help them improve writing.

Sinem Mollaoglu-Scott

Sinem Mollaoglu-Scott, PhD, LEED AP, CGP
Associate Prof. of Construction Management
School of Planning, Design, and Construction

I am an Associate Professor at the Construction Management Program in the School of Planning, Design, and Construction at the Michigan State University. I received my Ph.D. degree from Penn State, Architectural Engineering with my dissertation on high performance green building delivery. I have been working at MSU as a faculty member since 2008. I have been teaching Construction Project Scheduling at undergraduate level and Green and Energy Efficient Building Delivery and Integrated Project Delivery courses at both undergraduate and graduate levels. Through research, teaching, and service, my vision is to contribute to the improvement of project delivery via improvements in interdisciplinary networks and team integration.

VIPP Course: Project Management

This course is designed to introduce participants to project management. Through this course, participants will gain understanding of the stages during the life cycle of a project. The course will teach the tools and practices of project management related to planning, estimating, scheduling, monitoring, and controlling. Participants will also learn about the behavioral aspects of project management such as managing conflicts, negotiations, and creating integrative team.

Michael Rip

International Studies & Programs

Michael Rip is the Founding Director of the Program in Healthcare Administration (Broad College of Business), and previously the Founding Director of the Program in Public Health (College of Human Medicine). Dr. Rip was on the faculty of the Department of Community Health at the University of Cape Town Medical School, South Africa, for seven years. After obtaining his Ph.D. in spatial epidemiology and medical geography at Michigan State University (MSU) in 1991, he spent 16 years on the faculty of the Department of Epidemiology (MSU). There he developed graduate and undergraduate degree programs and courses in public health and epidemiology, most notably EPI-390 – Disease in Society: An Introduction to Public Health and Epidemiology, and the Specialization in Global Public Health and Epidemiology. He also assisted in the creation of the Department of Epidemiology in the early 1990s and was the Director of the Graduate Program until 2007. Dr. Rip’s undergraduate and postgraduate teaching interests include: critical thinking and innovation, population health, and epidemiology. Counterfeit pharmaceuticals, intelligence analysis and food fraud, bringing strategic intelligence analysis to the healthcare industry (e.g., healthcare fraud), the regionalization of healthcare programs, and achieving High Reliability in Organizations (HRO) by leveraging critical reasoning and systems thinking to minimize error/reduce harm, are some of his research interests.


Teresa Svec

teresa svec side-by-side.jpgAssistant Professor
English Language Center

I am an assistant professor at MSU and teach the courses Legal Research and General Research Methodology for VIPP. I also instruct foreign-educated lawyers in the American Legal System Program at Michigan State University College of Law. I have taught English as a Second Language for the MSU English Language Center since 2012. Prior to teaching for the ELC, I worked as a policy advisor for the nonprofit organization Disability Network. I earned my juris doctorate from MSU Law in 2008, hold a B.A. in Linguistics from Michigan State University, and am a member of the State Bar of Michigan. 

To learn more about me, check out VIPP's blog post about me

Side-By-Side Teresa Svec.jpgCourses

VIP 858: General Research Methodology

This course will introduce participants to research methodologies used in conducting scholarly research. Participants will learn to distinguish between scholarly and popular sources, locate research materials electronically and in print, search online databases, and evaluate sources. Participants will practice developing a research question, creating a research plan, locating materials, and describing research findings in writing.

VIP 863: Legal Research

This course is designed to introduce participants to U.S. legal research techniques and analysis. Through this course, participants will gain understanding of the U.S. legal system, including statutory law and case law. This course will teach legal research strategies, including how to locate appropriate sources of authority, how to read and analyze case law, and how to organize research findings. Participants will also learn to identify the types of legal documents used in the U.S., and will learn how to present a legal argument in writing.

E. David Wong

Associate Professor
Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Special Education
Ph.D., Stanford University

David Wong is an associate professor of educational psychology and educational technology. He is especially interested in the potential for learning that comes when students from different cultures interact. He is the leader of several study abroad programs and conducts research related to students' experiences in those programs. His areas of interest also include: intercultural experience and learning, global education, science education and educational philosophy.


Areas of Expertise:

  • Educational Psychology
  • International and Comparative Education
  • Motivation
  • Teacher Education, Learning, and Policy
  • Urban Education
  • Science Education


Advisory Committee

VIPP's advisory committee consists of MSU and community members, as well as two representatives from VIPP participants on a rotating basis. Its goal is to provide broad, high-level guidance and advising to VIPP's operations, development, strategic directions, and best practices. It advocates for VIPP programs, services and activities across MSU departments, colleges, centers, and community and other outside organizations.

Frank Fear

frankfear_side_by_side.jpgProfessor and Senior Associate Dean emeritus
College of Agriculture and Natural Resources
MSU Senior Fellow in Outreach and Engagement 

Frank A. Fear is professor emeritus from Michigan State University where he served as a faculty member for over thirty-five years and worked in various administrative positions including department chair, acting statewide associate director of MSU Extension, founding director of Bailey Scholars Program, and vice dean of College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. He is Senior Fellow, MSU Outreach and Engagement, and received the Charles Glizzo Award for International Diplomacy awarded by MSU International Studies and Programs. Frank is primarily interested in how public and nonprofit institutions serve the public good. His blog, "For the Public Good," is on Tumblr. Frank is Managing Editor of The Sports Column (Baltimore, MD) where he writes a column on topics associated with sports and society. He writes regularly about social issues for Los Angeles-based publication, LA Progressive. He also works as a strategic planning consultant for the Dean's Office of MSU International Studies and Programs.  

Eric Freedman

EricFreedmanUpdated.jpgProfessor, School of Journalism
Former Associate Dean, International Studies and Programs

Eric Freedman is Professor of Journalism and former Associate Dean of International Studies and Programs. During his 20-year newspaper career, he covered public affairs, environmental issues, and legal affairs for newspapers in New York and Michigan, winning a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of a legislative corruption scandal. He teaches environmental journalism and serves as Director of the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism. He also teaches public affairs reporting, international journalism, feature writing, and media law and serves as Director of the school’s Capital News Service, a professional-level internship program in which students cover state government for more than 25 newspapers and online news outlets across Michigan. Freedman earned his bachelor’s degree in government from Cornell University, his law degree from New York University and his master’s degree in resource development from MSU. Internationally, he has taught journalism as a Fulbright scholar in Lithuania and Uzbekistan, led workshops and seminars for professional journalists in Central Asia, and lectured to students in Singapore, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Japan and Kyrgyzstan.

He served for three years as an International Scholar in the Open Society Foundation’s Academic Fellowship Program, where he worked with faculty members in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at American University of Central Asia in Kyrgyzstan.

As a professional journalist and freelancer, Freedman has written for newspapers and magazines on such environmental issues as habitat protection, parks and public lands, toxic substances, extinction, ecotourism and government regulation. At MSU, he directed the Australia Media, Environment, Culture and Tourism study abroad program, the Reporting in the British Isles study abroad program, and a freshman seminar abroad on environment and media in Scotland.

Norman Graham

NormanGrahamUpdated.jpgDirector, European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies Center
Associate Dean, James Madison College

Norman A. Graham is professor of International Relations at MSU's James Madison College of Public Affairs. He also serves as the director of the Center for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies at the University.

Prof. Graham's long term research interests include international security and economic relations, international organization, Central and Southeastern Europe, and Central and South Asia. He has taught at Columbia University and led the Yale University Summer Seminar on International Business. He has also served as a Research Associate with the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and the Futures Group. He served as Associate Dean of James Madison College from 1999-2011, and Acting Dean 1998-99 and 2006-7.

His teaching at MSU focuses on international economic relations and development, the European Union and related international organizations and the foreign policies of European and Eurasian countries. He directs the Center's summer overseas study program on "International Relations in Brussels" in conjunction with the Universite Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), the European Union and NATO, alternating also as director of the summer program on “Environmental Science and Policy in the Eastern Mediterranean Basin” in collaboration with several Greek and Turkish universities and research institutes.

His current research focuses on industrial and technology development in the European Union, technology transfer and defense conversion in Europe, Russia, and the former Soviet Union, the future of Eurasian security, and the political economy of transition and environmental policy in Central Asia and the Caucasus. He was the recipient of an MSU Teacher-Scholar award in 1993. His published research includes eight books and numerous articles.

Graham earned his BA in European and Asian History from the University of Akron, his M. Phil. in International Relations and Political Economy from Columbia University, and his PhD in Political Science from Columbia University.

Chris Holman

Chris Holman headshot.jpeg

Chris Holman, a former high school teacher, coach, university instructor, and college Dean, has become one of Lansing’s most prominent businessmen. He is a successful entrepreneur with more than 40 years of experience and has affected practices and policies in the state of Michigan throughout his career. Chris has been promoting the Michigan business community since the 1980s. He is one of the original founding members of “Michigan Celebrates Small Business”, an annual celebration of Small Business successes that draws over 1,000 business, Owners/Managers, each year. He previously hosted a Sunday morning TV show called “Business Today” on WILX TV 10 and prior to that, he was a business editor and on-air personality at WLNS TV 6. In 2011 Chris ended a 14-year run as a daily morning radio show host on WILS 1320 and WJIM 1240. 

In 1984, Chris founded H&H, Inc., a Lansing marketing /consulting firm. Soon after, he started The Greater Lansing Business Monthly magazine in 1987, selling it in 2013. On July 4, 2011, Chris launched a statewide 24/7 business news Internet website and broadcast company called “Michigan Business Network.” He is currently the CEO of the company and the primary host of the network’s anchor program, “Michigan Business Beat,” which airs each weekday on the stream but is available 24/7 as a podcast. He has also been involved in international business for over 30 years and owns a factory near Beijing, China. 

In early 2006, Gov. Jennifer Granholm appointed Chris as Michigan's Small Business Advocate. He served as a liaison between the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and small business owners across the state of Michigan while working closely with the Michigan Business Ombudsman’s office.

 Chris is involved with several other business ventures and serves on numerous community boards. He has 25 years of experience as a bank board member of three different banks. He has also served as Board Chairman of the Capital Area United Way and as Chairperson of the Board of Governors of the Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau. Chris served on the Board Chairman of The Capital Region International Airport in Lansing, for 20 years with many of those years as the Board Chair. He is a Past-President of the Rotary Club of Lansing, Past Chairman of the SBAM (Small Business Association of Michigan), and also Past-Chairman of the NSBA (National Small Business Association) in Washington DC, during which he met with the president during his tour on Business Matters and in the Rose Garden for the signing of the J.O.B.S ( Jumpstart Our Business Startups) Act. 

Due to his passion for education, he served for several years as chairman of the tri-county Keep Learning Committee, which has been renamed T3, an organization dedicated to bringing educators to the development of the workforce. Most recently, Chris assumed the role of State President of AARP of Michigan. He has also been serving for the past several years on the advisory board of the Detroit office of the Chicago Federal Reserve. 

Chris holds two degrees from Eastern Michigan University and has been a Lansing-area resident for more than 40 years. He has been married to his wife Louse for 45 years, and they have three children and an ever-increasing number of grandchildren. 

Charles Mickens


Charles Mickens served as the Associate Dean of Innovation and Technology and Chief Information Officer at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School for 18 years. Before that, he was employed by the State of Michigan for over 20 years in the Departments of Licensing and Regulation, Civil Service, and the Department of Information Technology Management and Budget.

Charles graduate of the College of Social Science at Michigan State University. He lived in Thailand and studied Thai language, history, and culture for six months as part of the study abroad program at Michigan State. He has served on the Lansing Community College Technology Curriculum Advisory Council, as an arbitrator for the Better Business Bureau of Eastern Michigan; on the boards of Michigan State University-Kresge Art Museum,  the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, the College of Social Science Alumni Board, the Michigan Festival, and as the President of the Michigan Management Information Systems Association.

Currently, Mickens is a member of the Lansing Entertainment and Public Facilities Authority and served as the chairperson in 2012 to 2013. He is on the boards of the Rotary E-Club of Houston, the greater Lansing Sister Cities Commission, and the Capital Regional Community Foundation. He enjoys cooking, jazz, and travel.  He and his wife Helen's hobby is traveling, especially trips throughout France and China. Charles enjoys giving back to the community. He is a member of the Information Technology Empowerment Center Girls 2020 Giving Society and is a two-time Paul Harris Fellow. 

Keith I. Bezant Niblett

keithniblett.jpgAssistant Director, International Relationships & Executive Development Programs
The Eli Broad College of Business

Keith Niblett is the Assistant Director of Executive Development Programs in the the Eli Broad Graduate School of Management. In this role, focusing on Customized and International programs, he is working on whole program design, marketing and sales, teaching and support, and continuous improvement and strategic geographic and portfolio development.

Keith also is Chairman of the Board at a fast-growing US National Home Owners Association services company and a senior Board member of a New York-based international manufacturing and marketing company, which has over twenty manufacturing units in every major continent in the world. 

To learn more about Keith, check VIPP's blog


Colleen Pero

Former Deputy Director at Michigan Department of Civil Rights

Colleen Pero was Deputy Director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. Prior to her appointment, she was a partner in Pero Consulting, Inc., a public affairs consulting firm based in Laingsburg, Michigan, for ten years.  During this time, the majority of her clients and projects have centered on legal and judicial issues and campaigns. In 2013, the Federalist Society of Michigan acknowledged her leadership in conservative legal circles by awarding her the Grano Award.

Colleen’s prior legal experience includes serving as General Counsel to the (Lamar) Alexander for President Campaign and as an attorney for Dickinson, Wright in Lansing, and Winstead McGuire, Sechrest & Minick in Houston.  She currently serves as a Michigan Supreme Court appointee to the State Bar of Michigan Board of Commissioners (where she serves on the Public Policy Committee).  In 2014, she was one of 12 lawyers named by the Court to the Michigan Supreme Court Task Force charged with examining the role of the State Bar of Michigan, especially as it relates to First Amendment issues. Colleen also is a frequent presenter to U.S. State Department-sponsored international delegations on the rule of law and the Michigan judicial system.  She currently serves as a contract Special Assistant Attorney General for Attorney General Bill Schuette, working with senior staff on special projects, including human trafficking and school violence. 

Colleen earned her B.A. from Michigan State University, her M.B.A. from the Thunderbird School of Global Management, and her J.D. from the University of Houston.  

Jiaguo Qi

JiaguoQi.jpgProfessor, Geography
Director of the Center for Global Change and Earth Observations

Dr. Jiaguo Qi is Director of the Center for Global Change and Earth Observations and Professor in the Department of Geography at Michigan State University. He also serves as a Project Scientist in the NASA-MAIRS program. His research focuses on two areas: integrating biophysical and social processes and methods in understanding land use and land cover change; and transforming data into information and knowledge.

Through research projects funded by different agencies including NASA, NSF, USDA, USAID, he uses case studies in different parts of the world to understand the nature of the coupled natural-human systems that play into global change. The geographic area of his research includes projects in North America, Southeast Asia, East Asia, Central Asia, East and West Africa, South America, and Australia. His recent research integrates environmental and social sciences to investigate the consequences of the socioeconomic reform on land degradation in China, and climate change impact on human systems in East Africa.

Won Song

drwonsong.jpgProfessor, Food Science and Human Nutrition 


Dr. Won Song, a professor of human nutrition in the Department of Food Science at Michigan State University, has been an active researcher and teacher since she joined the MSU faculty as an assistant professor. Her research training and interests reside in nutritional epidemiology; community nutrition; food consumption behaviors in relation to chronic diseases; dietary patterns and health risks at the national and international settings; biomarkers and predictors for nutritional status in large populations with emphasis on the subgroups at risk; national nutrition surveys and its application in research; and nutrition education – theories and application of technology. She has recently been focusing her research activities on maternal child health, especially in those who are socioeconomically disadvantaged.

She has received numerous recognitions for her research and teaching accomplishments, served on many university-wide, national and international committees for professional organizations and industry, and advised and mentored numerous graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and international visiting scholars extending her research expertise. She has published over 10 books and chapters, over 100 peer-reviewed articles, and delivered over 250 presentations to the professionals.

Mary Anne Walker



Mary Anne Walker works at Office of Senior Vice President for Research and Innovation. She served as the Director of the Global Engineering Office at Michigan State University. She has been working in the field of international development, research, education and training for more than 30 years. Her passion is in working with students on applied research and learning endeavors engaging global partners.  Mary Anne has taught and consulted on topics of community and economic development and financing public/private alliances through building extensive networks.

Sung Lee



Dr. Sung Lee 


Dr. Lee is a retired physician specialized in Ob/Gyn. During his 40 years practice, he delivered about 5,000 babies in Lansing area. Following his retirement, he continues his medical professions by working in Malawi for around three months a year. He is currently serving as the Director of Okemos Ob/Gyn Associates and Women's Well-Being Clinic; Chairman of the Korea Committee; a member of the Lansing Regional Sister Cities Commission; and a member of the East Lansing Rotary Club.

Dr. Lee is passionate about international education and exchange for young people. He has been the driving force of a Korean-American high school exchange program for the last 10 years, where 15-20 Korean students visiting and studying at Holt High School for three weeks every February and the same number of American students study in Korea in July.