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UConn west campus may be sold to Chinese company

By AMY HE in New York ( Updated: 2016-04-13 09:40

UConn west campus may be sold to Chinese company

The University of Connecticut's West Hartford campus, which may potentially be sold to Chinese education company Weiming Education Group. Weiming Education said it intends to establish an international high school academy for students from America, Asia, Europe and South America. PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY

One of the University of Connecticut's campuses could be sold to a Chinese education group, which wants to open a private international high school on the site.

The West Hartford campus, one of the state university's five regional campuses, is being sold off as the school prepares to open a new campus in downtown Hartford five miles east next fall.

The school has negotiated a tentative agreement to sell the 58-acre campus to Weiming Education Group for $12.6 million, the school told its board of trustees in a March 30 letter.

It said that the town of West Hartford has the right to match the terms agreed upon and buy the property for itself.

Ron Van Winkle, West Hartford town manager, told China Daily that the town will convene on May 2 to consider the option, although according to the university's letter to its board, "conversations between University representatives and [the town] staff suggest that the town will likely be supportive of a purchase by [Weiming Education Group]".

The town is supportive because of the education group's intent to use the property for educational purposes; that it is proposing collaboration with other West Hartford public schools; and because the company will pay real estate taxes on the property — which is currently tax-exempt state land — to the town, the school said.

Weiming Education Group, founded in 1999, said in its letter to the town of West Hartford that the international high school academy it will establish will serve American, Asian, European and South American students.

"The outstanding academic reputation of both West Hartford and the State of Connecticut is what has led to Weiming's interest in possibly locating at the University of Connecticut property," Tim DiScipio, CEO of Weiming Education Group USA, said in the letter.

"Connecticut leads the nation in academic excellence, the state high schools rank #1 in the combined Northeast and New England region, and the significant talent pool of teachers and administrators with advanced degrees is an important factor," he added.

DiScipio said that Weiming sees an opportunity for students in Connecticut's universities to teach abroad at the company's international schools in Asia, and in opening an educational institution at the campus would hire a significant number of faculty and staff.

"We believe our presence will enhance the state's global reputation as an education leader and enable local American students the opportunity to build lasting global peer connections to help them meet the demands of new emerging growth opportunities in the 21st Century international economy," DiScipio said in the letter.

Weiming Education is now in a period of due diligence, assessing the property and buildings to see if their proposals to establish an international high school are feasible.

"They will need zoning and wetland permits from the town, which probably won't be applied for until the fall. If all goes well, they could have an approved project by year-end," Van Winkle said.

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