Doane builds Japanese connections at Midwest States Association Japan Conference

Leadership from eight Nebraska institutions

Although the school year is young, international recruiting efforts have been in full swing at Doane in recent weeks.


Doane was one of eight Nebraska institutions to host a higher education reception prior to the Midwest States Association Japan Conference in Omaha earlier this month, which provided the unique opportunity to build connections with Japanese institutions and explore potential partnership opportunities.


The Midwest U.S. - Japan Association dates back 50 years, as business leaders from Japan and the Midwest region of the U.S. have met annually to discuss the growth and progress of economic relations between America and Japan. This year’s conference in Omaha marked the 50th year the conference has been held.


While the focus of the conference was connected to economic development between Japan and the nine Midwest states affiliated with the Midwest States Association (Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin), eight Nebraska institutions hosted a reception prior to the conference on Saturday, September 8th, titled “Building Bridges through Education and Economic Engagement.” Doane University, Creighton University, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Nebraska-Omaha, Nebraska Wesleyan, University of Nebraska Medical Center, University of Nebraska-Kearney, and the Nebraska Business Development Center were all in attendance.


Doane’s Jake Hoy-Elswick, director of international programs, co-organized the event with Lori Arias from UNO. Hoy-Elswick was one of four representatives for Doane in attendance. President Dr. Jacque Carter, Dr. Pedro Maligo, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and Dr. Paul Savory, vice president of academic affairs, were also present.


“There seems to be genuine interest on the part of the visitors to explore potential partnerships, agreements, etc. ranging from educational to business collaborations,” Maligo said.


President Jacque Carter represented Doane on a leadership panel that facilitated conversation about the economic impact of higher education in Nebraska and globally, with a focus on engagement with Japan.


As Doane continues to enhance its international strategic plan, Japan is an area of emphasis in the coming years, according to Hoy-Elswick. Doane has developed a strong relationship with Senshu University Matsudo Junior High in Japan, hosting their students at Adventure Zone on Doane’s Crete campus for a week each summer for the last 15 years.


Recently, opportunities have developed for Doane undergraduate students who are studying ESL (English as a Second Language) to student teach in Japan. Doane student Cody Redford ’19 will be teaching in Japan later this fall.


According to Hoy-Elswick, as Japan’s population has declined in the last decade, many universities have turned their focus of international recruitment to China. “There are a lot of schools in Japan that want U.S. connections,” Hoy-Elswick said. “We’re working to build relationships with those institutions with the hope that in the long run we can recruit students, provide opportunities for students to study abroad, and for Doane faculty to connect research and classroom experiences with our Japanese engagement.


Currently, Doane has just one Japanese student on its Crete campus, Takuma Yamashita ’21.


While the Midwest States Association Japan Conference was an excellent opportunity for Doane to build and enhance its network with Japanese institutions, Doane has also made significant progress building relationships with students and schools in Panama as well.


Hoy-Elswick and Luis Sotelo, chief diversity officer, traveled to Panama in September where they represented Doane at school visits, recruitment fairs, and with public and private agencies that support student recruitment in Panama. Around 200 students in Panama expressed interest in learning more about Doane.


More information on the Midwest States Association Japan Conference can be found at