Yale announces new Leadership Center in China

Yale University is creating a new Yale Leadership Center in Beijing that will host conferences, workshops, and other events developed by all of the university’s schools and programs. The center will open next fall.

“Yale is a truly global university — in our programs and in our outlook. The new Yale Leadership Center in Beijing enables us to both expand the global reach of the university and better support the work of Yale’s schools and centers to collaborate in China,” said President Peter Salovey.

The center is being funded through generous gifts from two Yale alumni: Neil Shen, managing partner of Sequoia Capital China, and Brad Huang, founder and chair of Lotus Capital Management; and by Yale friend Xiaoping (Bob) Xu, the founding partner of ZhenFund.com. The gift funds the rent and all operating costs of the center and allows for the hiring of a director and small staff who will be located in Beijing and who will work directly with all of Yale’s schools and programs to support their use of the center. Salovey added, “I am grateful to the founding donors and particularly to Neil for his leadership and efforts to make this center a reality.”

Speaking on behalf of all three founding donors, Shen said, “Yale has a long history with China, as well as with Chinese students, dating back to 1854 when Yung Wing, the very first Chinese student to receive a degree from an American university, graduated from Yale.”

Shen, a member of the Yale President’s Council on International Activities, went on to say, “We admire how Yale has been convening so many thought leaders in China, and we want this center to facilitate and accelerate those efforts and to cultivate academic and cultural exchanges across a broad range of subjects between China and the United States. This can have widespread benefits for the future of China and, we feel, for Yale as well. We look forward to having additional Yale scholars and students spend more time in China due to this center and to the gatherings and activities that will take place there.”

The 16,500 square-foot center, located in the Chaoyang section of Beijing, is being designed to provide offices and meeting spaces for individual Yale faculty members who visit Beijing for their research or other scholarly pursuits, as well as facilities for conferences. It will also be used for other Yale activities in Beijing from admissions informational sessions to alumni events. It will be Yale’s only center in China hosting programming from the entire university community.

Shen noted, “I hope it will become a vital intellectual hub for connecting leaders and leading institutions in all sectors, and will serve as an anchor for the growing and dynamic Yale alumni community in China.” The Yale School of Management (SOM) has agreed to run the center for use by all of Yale.

Yale SOM Dean Edward A. Snyder said, “With a center in Beijing’s vibrant Chaoyang District, we look forward to broad-based discussions with businesspeople, entrepreneurs, and public leaders on diverse issues, including improving health outcomes, environmental challenges, the increasing importance of creative arts, and managing financial assets. We are especially grateful to Yale’s generous donors, especially Neil Shen, who have worked to realize the synergy between Yale’s ability to convene on-going, important dialogues and the strategic importance of Beijing.”

Over 100 Yale faculty are undertaking research in or about China, and, for over a decade, schools at Yale have developed and led a wide range of programs for Chinese leaders, in both New Haven and China, building on a legacy of ties between Yale and China that date to the early 19th century. The range and frequency of Yale programs have been growing: The China-Yale Advanced Leadership Program for University Presidents has been held since 2004; many members of the Yale faculty have participated since 2005 in the China-Yale Senior Government Leadership Programs; the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies has conducted executive education programs for provincial and municipal environmental officials since 2004; the Law School’s China Center has since 1999 sponsored programs for advancing the rule of law in China, and has recently initiated programs to study and advance U.S.-China relations more generally, including a major Track II Dialogue with Chinese counterparts; the School of Public Health has trained over 500 managers for health care leadership; and the School of Nursing has led intensive workshops for an equal number of nursing educators and leaders. The schools of the arts have also been active in China, from the School of Music’s long association with China’s premier music conservatorie to the School of Architecture’s annual studio with Tsinghua, and the School of Drama’s recent programs with the Shanghai Theatre Academy. Yale SOM has developed a number of programs for senior Chinese business leaders and expanded its CEO Summit to China last year. SOM will hold its fall 2014 CEO Summit at the center in Beijing.

Several schools and programs across Yale are already working to develop activities at the center in its first year. The School of Architecture is planning a major symposium, "Icons and Enclaves: New Architecture and Patterns of Urban Development in China," which will bring together leading Chinese architects and academics with Yale School of Architecture Dean Robert A. M. Stern and other faculty at Yale and Tsinghua to discuss how recent projects by Chinese and international architects express, shape, and challenge the dynamics of explosive urban growth in China's cities. The China Center of the Law School anticipates using this space on a regular basis as a workplace and for meetings with project partners, roundtable events with peer organizations, and cooperative workshops and dialogues with Chinese partners. The School of Music is planning a program for one of the opening events of the center that would bring together a panel of musical artists. The School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs have also signaled their interest in using the center for conferences during 2015.